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VOL. 122 | NO. 45 | Friday, March 9, 2007

Daily Digest

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TDOT Traffic Cameras to Be Fully Operational By Spring '08

     Cameras are popping up all over town. But they're not intended for officials to catch drivers speeding or breaking other traffic laws.
     Instead, these cameras, part of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Smart Way system, are intended to give drivers a look at traffic situations throughout the Memphis area.
     TDOT recently filed building permits to install poles and risers for the SmartWay system, according to the Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.
     So far, 25 cameras and three dynamic or interactive message boards have been set up as part of the early deployment of the system. But when the entire system has been rolled out, there will be more than 100 cameras.
     "The complete Memphis system will include 115 cameras, 42 dynamic message boards, 354 traffic flow sensors and a transportation management center," said Pamela Marshall, community relations officer for TDOT's Region 4.
Say cheese!
Marshall said the early deployment of the system cost $3.3 million in federal money.
     She added that it's still too soon to say how much the entire project will cost. Even though all the cameras and other equipment have been bought, a management center still has not been built.
     The 10,000-square-foot Memphis center will be on the Boswell TDOT campus near White Station Road and Summer Avenue. Marshall said the building should be completed by spring 2008.
     Once the building is finished, all 115 cameras will become operational.
     "The poles for the cameras and the message boards are already up," Marshall said. "We're going to focus on getting (the area for the information systems for the cameras) completed as soon as possible so the cameras can go online."
     Cameras now are placed on the Hernando DeSoto and Interstate 55 bridges.
     The cameras will feed video in real time and will be refreshed every one to five minutes.
     The cameras may be viewed on TDOT's Web site, www.tdot.state.tn.us. Also, all local television news stations such as Eyewitness News Everywhere (WPTY-TV ABC-24/WLMT-TV CW-30) and WMC-TV Channel 5 have the SmartWay cameras feeding into their Web sites.
     By visiting any local television news station's site and clicking on the traffic tab, anyone will be able to view images from the cameras. The sites also have information about accidents reported by the Memphis Police Department and roads that might be closed because of construction.
     "We expect the television stations and the public will be able to utilize (all) the cameras way before the building is completed," Marshall said.
     Once the entire system is in place, the cameras will cover all 86 miles - including Interstates 40, 240 and Tenn. 385 - in Memphis and Shelby County.
Down the road
The SmartWay Camera Systems already are up and running in Nashville and Knoxville.
     In the first three months of operation on Nashville's SmartWay system, there were more than half a million hits on the cameras on TDOT's Web site.
     Chattanooga's camera system, like Memphis', still is in the early implementation stage.
     In addition to having the SmartWay traffic cameras in all four major cities in Tennessee, drivers traveling through the state during holiday seasons also will be able to access real-time traffic conditions by calling 511, the voice-activated statewide traveler information system.
     The system also will be valuable in getting Amber Alerts out to the public, Marshall said. When an alert is issued, the message can be quickly broadcast via the message boards.
     The Amber Alert system started in 1996 when Dallas-Ft. Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. The system was created in response to the kidnapping of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. Hagerman was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered.

Virginia Run Road Building Sold for $6 Million

     A 30,060-square-foot office building at 842 Virginia Run Road has sold to a New York-based company for $6 million. The buyer, 842 Virginia Run LLC, financed the purchase with a $4.8 million loan through JP Morgan Chase Bank National Association.
     The office building was built in 2005. The Memphis sub office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is in the office building.
     The Shelby County Assessor's 2006 appraisal was $1.7 million.

Corker Opens Office In Metro Memphis

     U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Thursday he's opening a Memphis regional office.
     Nick Kistenmacher and Kimberly Bridges will staff the office. Kistenmacher, an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis, will be the field director. Bridges is serving as constituent services representative.
     As field director, Kistenmacher will be Corker's primary representative in the Memphis region. He also will work closely with local elected officials and business and civic leaders, helping them leverage federal resources for economic development projects in their communities.
     As constituent services representative, Bridges will be the point of contact for constituents in need of help from the federal government.

Bids for ServiceMaster In the Works

     Two buyout groups are in the process of preparing bids for ServiceMaster Co., a residential and commercial services company that recently began exploring the possibility of putting itself up for sale and is moving its corporate headquarters to Memphis.
     The Bloomberg News Service on Tuesday reported the two groups might bid more than $4 billion for the company, a claim that was attributed to four people with knowledge of the discussions.
     Final offers for ServiceMaster apparently are due by the end of this month. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. is behind one of the offers, and Bain Capital LLC is part of a group of private equity firms making another bid.
     With offices in New York and London, Clayton Dubilier has pumped more than $6.5 billion in equity into 39 businesses, and it's also the company that helped sell Kinko's Inc. to FedEx Corp. in 2004. Business icon Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, is a special partner at the firm.
     Bain Capital, meanwhile, was founded in 1984 by former Massachusetts governor and current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The company has about $40 billion in assets.

Work Begins on Biocontainment Lab

     Workers will break ground today at the site of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL). The groundbreaking will take place at 10 a.m. at the site of the original Baptist Memorial Hospital at the corner of Madison Avenue and Dudley Street.
      "It's the first visible part of the (UT-Baptist) Research Park, and that is really going to impact the economy when it is finished," said Gerald I. Byrne, director of the lab. "I think we really have a chance to become a great example of how we can bring together outstanding teams of investigators."
     The laboratory will be the first new building at the park. Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2008, Byrne said.
     In 2003, UTHSC was awarded nearly $18 million in federal funding from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) to be used to build a laboratory on the UT-Baptist Research Park site for biomedical and biodefense research and research training.

Grizzlies' Dolich to Speak At PRSA Luncheon

     Get an insider's look at the Memphis Grizzlies next week when the Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) hosts a luncheon Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave.
     Grizzlies president of business operations Andy Dolich will discuss "What the Grizzlies Mean to Memphis." The luncheon is free for PRSA members, $25 for non-members and $15 for students. Early reservations are encouraged. Visit www.prsamemphis.org or e-mail Jamie Coggins, PRSA chapter coordinator, at jamieprsa@bellsouth.net.
     Dolich, who is from New York and now lives in Downtown Memphis, has served as the president of business operations for the Grizzlies since team owner Michael Heisley appointed him in May 2000. He is responsible for the day-to-day business and marketing side of the NBA franchise.
     The Grizzlies' business operations group is responsible for the administration and operation of FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies, which opened in October 2004.
     The Grizzlies Foundation serves as a prominent community partner, and has donated $18.4 million, as of Nov. 30, in grants to local nonprofit organizations. The organization has been a leader in literacy education and a partner with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through the Memphis Grizzlies House, a short-term residence for patients undergoing treatment.

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