Emergency Management

Contact Us

  • Phone: 970-328-3545
    Fax: 970-328-8694

    Emergency Management
    P.O. Box 850
    Eagle, Colorado 81631

    emergency@eaglecounty.us

    Call 9-1-1 for emergencies
    or 970-479-2201


East Beacon radio tower dedication

Contact: Mick McQuilton, 970-328-3547 or mick.mcquilton@eaglecounty.us

July 12, 2016 - Eagle County has completed the buildout of the East Beacon public safety radio communication site, which repurposed a former airport locator beacon tower to a statewide Digital Trunked Radio System (DTRS) tower. The site was dedicated on July 12, 2016. Photos are available at www.facebook.com/EagleCounty.

PROJECT HISTORY
Following the county’s migration to the DTRS in 2011 with 6 radio sites, several geographic areas were identified by system users as having subpar two-way radio coverage, and were subsequently prioritized by system managers to build out additional radio site assets. With the addition of the Vail and Lower Beaver Creek sites in 2012, the 800 MHz Fund focused attention on the Gypsum and Eagle area, where coverage from existing high-elevation sites north of I-70 was insufficient to provide in-building and in some cases, outdoor coverage in an area of relatively high population density served by multiple law, fire and EMS agencies.

Between 2012 and 2014 the Fund focused on identifying suitable sites for development, financial planning to allocate sufficient capital and negotiations with radio system stakeholders and project partners as well as coverage modeling and analysis. The East Beacon site was selected based on its superior geographic location south of I-70 and close to population centers, the willingness of BLM to see the site developed, and the county’s established ownership of the tower at the site.

An RFP was issued and the contract for construction was awarded in 2015. The logistics posed a challenge: the site is best accessed by private land leading to a steep, narrow shelf road which is impassable when wet. There were only minimal existing improvements to the site, necessitating soils analysis, grading and foundation work and extensive electrical improvements. Two choices existed for an equipment shelter: building on site, or transporting a prefabricated shelter by air. Thanks to the U.S. Army National Guard’s High-Altitude Aviation Training facility, the latter option proved feasible and in September 2015 a 10-by-16-foot building weighing approximately 9,000 pounds was successfully airlifted to the site with a USANG Chinook helicopter.

Physical construction was completed in November 2015, with the onset of winter delaying equipment installation and tower work until spring. The East Beacon radio site became operational on June 14, 2016 as a six-channel digital trunked site, the 216th DTRS site in the State of Colorado and the 11th in Eagle County - nine of which are currently owned and operated by the county. 

SITE HISTORY
The historic East Beacon Electronic Site was originally developed as a navigational aid for aircraft arriving and departing the Eagle County Airport. Research indicates the tower was erected in 1946 or 1947 by the predecessor of the FAA as part of the nation’s Interstate Airway Communications System. The four-legged steel angle tower is 50 feet tall, and originally supported a pressurized gas/electric lamp with a 2-foot tall Fresnel lens made of one-inch thick Corning glass. The lamp was pressurized with noble gas and the powered by a single-phase 110V power line extending to the tower’s peak in a single span from the valley floor below. The East Beacon, as it was called then, was one of at least three such aircraft visual navigation stations in operation in the area of the airport. The other two were the West Beacon, on Red Hill above Gypsum, and East Castle Beacon at 11,000 feet north of Eagle. The beacon was in operation for several decades until advances in radio navigation rendered it obsolete. It was removed from the tower this year to make room for the radio system antennas.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • East Beacon sits at almost exactly 7,000 feet in elevation, making it the lowest-elevation radio site in the county. The antenna projects an 11-degree beamwidth signal in a 360-degree pattern toward the valley below, and each of the 6 channels broadcasts with 150 watts of effective radiated power, or about enough to cover a 10-mile radius
  • Total project cost was approximately $650,000; of this, about $250,000 was devoted to electronic equipment, with the balance funding the building, construction and project management costs.
  • The site is connected to the rest of the DTRS by a point-to-point microwave link which spans 10 miles between East Beacon and the Blowout site, above Dotsero. The repeaters operate in the 800 MHz band, the microwave at 11 GHz (that’s 11 billion cycles per second).
  • Electric service is provided by a dedicated pole-mounted transformer, upgraded from the previous installation (but still served by a single span of wire from the valley floor). The site is capable of running for a minimum of 10 hours on backup battery in the event of a power outage.
  • The county’s building is cooled by twin, 2-ton air conditioners with electric heat and outside-air economizers.  This system keeps the equipment room at a constant 72 degrees and less than 20 percent relative humidity during any season of the year.
  • The buildings, tower, equipment, fencing, stairs and all metal objects are connected to an extensive buried earth-ground system capable of dissipating a large amount of conducted electrical energy. This protects both personnel working at the site and equipment installed there in the event of a lightning strike to the site
  • East Beacon is close enough to aircraft on the landing glide path at EGE that pilots will sometimes wave to you.