FRANKLIN, Ind. -- First responders will get help navigating through traffic in the upcoming years. GPS-enabling technology on traffic lights will control traffic flow to help crews get to scene quicker.
On Friday, the city received a ceremonial $601,275 check from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (IMPO) to help pay for the safety enhancement. The GPS equipment at every intersection is expected to reduce emergency responses times by an average of 20% for police, firefighters and EMS.
"This project will allow public safety to safely go through the intersections with signal timing," said IMPO executive director Anna Gremling. "So, they'll be able to detect when public safety vehicles are approaching and change the signals."
Funding for the project will be available in the state's fiscal year of 2024. The money comes from federal funds that's collected from motorists at the gas pump.
As part of an annual funding process, Franklin planners submitted projects for consideration by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is responsible for planning and programming federal transportation funds in the eight-county Central Indiana region. Projects are judged based on such criteria as impacts to air quality, improvements to congestion, safety, pavement quality and more.
“It’s always a very competitive process with nearly 70 applications this year from 18 municipalities, but Franklin’s project was among those that rose to the top,” Gremling said. “Building and maintaining infrastructure is one of local governments’ biggest challenges, and one of the ways they make a critical contribution to regional and state economies.”
Firefighters in the city are looking forward to the technology. Ryan Piercefield has been an engine chauffeur for six years. He works out of the station on the north side and said the intersection next door at Main Street and U.S. 31 is constantly causing problems for him.
"This intersection is absolutely horrendous to get out and try to go across to make an emergent run," Piercefield said.
He said he's seen one driver hit a fire truck there.
Not too far south, traffic comes to a stand still when a fire truck rolls through. Piercefield said traffic stops waiting to see what firefighters will do but they're stuck in the crowd, waiting for other drivers to move. He's even driven the wrong way because seconds matter in emergencies.
"It’s something I try not to do," said Piercefield. "It’s an absolute last resort option."
Construction of the GPS technology will begin in 2024. The total project cost is $ $668,080, with 80 percent – $601,275 – of it coming from federal funding through the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Franklin was one of 11 communities and agencies in the region selected to receive federal funds.