SPRINGFIELD, Il – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today continued his commitment towards strengthening the state’s defenses to terrorist attacks and other disasters with the announcement of the site for the new state-of-the-art State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) on Springfield’s East Side. The center is set to be operational by Fall 2005. The new SEOC will replace the outdated State Emergency Operations Center near the Capitol complex.
“The new State Emergency Operations Center will put Illinois at the forefront of public safety with cutting-edge technology for and increased coordination of our homeland security and emergency response resources,” Blagojevich said. “We’ve studied top-of-the-line operations centers throughout the U.S. and assessed emerging technology. As a result, we have plans for a new facility that will enhance our state’s emergency response capabilities and keep us at the forefront as one of the most prepared states in the country.”
The new facility will bring together several of the state’s response resources under one roof, including the State Incident Response Center (SIRC), the State Terrorism Intelligence Center (STIC), the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF), the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center (REAC), the state’s 24-hour telecommunications center, and response personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
"The new State Emergency Operations Center will be a big step forward in Illinois' ability to respond to any sort of disaster," Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director William Burke said. "Not only will we have state-of-the-art communications and information technology in the new SEOC, but we will be bringing our telecommunications center, response center, terrorism intelligence center and radiological assessment center together under one roof."
Plans for the center include more space than the existing SEOC, as well as adjacent meeting space. Wireless voice communications and videoconferencing capabilities will increase the SEOC staff’s ability to consult with the governor and other emergency operations centers around the state including the emergency operation center in Cook County. Also slated for the site is the construction of a helipad allowing officials to be quickly transported to a disaster scene nearly anywhere in the state, making DuQuoin, Perry County in Southern Illinois as immediately accessible to an emergency response team as Sterling, Whiteside County in Northwestern Illinois.
The site proposed for the new SEOC, pending final approval by the federal government, is on land north of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) building on South Dirksen Parkway.
“The site is ideal because of its close proximity to a major highway and because its quickly and easily accessible to all state agency representatives that will be reporting to the center in the event of an emergency,” said Blagojevich.
The funding that will be used to build the new center was announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in September of 2003; the $9.3 million grant was the second highest in the nation among states vying for a share of the $50 million in total grants. The state must provide a 25 percent match, which can include the value of state land used for the facility and architectural or engineering work conducted by the Capital Development Board (CDB) or other state agencies. Under terms of the federal grant, the facility must be completed or nearly completed within 18 months.
"The aggressive nature of this project and the occupancy requirements of the federal grant will require an exceptional degree of flexibility and creativity from CDB," said Anthony D. Rossi, Executive Director of the Capital Development Board. "CDB is exploring different ways to accelerate this project through design and construction to meet the ambitious goals required in creating this state-of-the-art facility."
The architectural and engineering firm for the project will be De Stefano and Partners of Chicago, selected by the Illinois Capital Development Board. The Capital Development Board employed the Quality Based Selection (QBS) method to choose the firm. De Stefano and Partners has consulted with other firms on similar projects, notably on the emergency operations centers in both Chicago and Kansas City.
The announcement of a site for the SEOC coincides with other steps taken recently by the Blagojevich administration to strengthen its defenses and response abilities to terrorist attacks and other disasters. In December of 2003 Governor Blagojevich announced an Internet-based system to track agricultural assets and the operation of an animal terrorism hotline, and in January 2004 announced the disbursement of $2.8 million in funds from IEMA to assist 110 counties and cities with their comprehensive all-hazards emergency operations plans.