A new tower is up, although not yet operational, but Dukes County sheriff Robert Ogden said this week that major strides have been made in the quest to improve emergency communications on Martha’s Vineyard.

On Jan. 13, a 140-foot tall radio tower was raised at the Oak Bluffs transfer station. The tower is one of five on the Island that has been improved, rehabilitated or built to provide first responders with a more reliable, state-of-the-art regional communications system.

In October, the sheriff’s department received a $1.7 million grant from the Massachusetts E911 Department for the tower, which is the next phase of the Islandwide project. Still lacking hardware, the tower is expected to be fitted with antennas in early spring. The current plan aims to have the Islandwide system up and running by fall.

“It’s huge for the Island, this really marks the first bricks-and-mortar piece of material that is being developed for the system. We’re so proud of it, it’s going to revolutionize E911 communications on Martha’s Vineyard,” Sheriff Ogden told the Gazette by phone, speaking about the tower.

The current emergency communications system relies on a so-called spoke-and-hub system where the tower at the sheriff’s office at the airport acts as a lynch pin for communications.

The new system will use five different sites that connect a point-to-point system, the sheriff explained. Each tower is integral in supporting the neighboring towers if one were to go down. As a result, no town emergency response system would be completely out of service if their tower ran into trouble.

Once the Oak Bluffs tower is equipped with the necessary hardware to be operational, there are two final steps before the new system can be launched, the sheriff said. An agreement must be struck with Verizon to construct two three-foot-wide dishes on their Pennywise Path cell tower, and first responder radio units will need to be updated to operate on the new system.

Updating the Island’s entire portable radio inventory will cost more money, but Sheriff Ogden said he is optimistic about qualifying for another grant from the state E911 department to help pay for it.

Negotiations with Verizon could prove to be a more difficult hurdle, the sheriff said, but he said talks are under way to reach terms.

“This is public safety . . . We just need amicable terms,” he said.