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Contract award brings Digital 395 closer to reality

December 19, 2011

Jensen Precast of Sparks, Nev. has been awarded a subcontract to build 417 of these underground barrel vaults as part of the California Broadband Cooperative’s massive “Middle Mile” Digital 395 fiber optic network project. The underground vaults are where sections of the backbone cable of the network will be spliced together. Photo courtesy CBC

Another step has been completed in the project aimed at supplying high-speed Internet access to communities along the U.S. 395 corridor.
Jensen Precast, of Sparks, Nev., has been awarded the subcontract to build hundreds of concrete barrel vaults that will be buried underground at various locations along the 583-mile project.
According to the California Broadband Cooperative, the concrete manufacturing company will be building a total of 417 underground barrel vaults as part of its massive “Middle Mile” Digital 395 fiber optic network project. The network will run variably along U.S. 395 from Barstow, to Carson City, Nev.
Michael Ort, CEO for Praxis Associates which is managing Digital 395 on behalf of California Broadband Cooperative, said in a press release the award of the contract is a welcomed push in the right direction to get construction off the ground.
“We are very excited about our partnership with Jensen Precast and the possibility it has in bringing local jobs to the Eastern Sierra,” Ort said. “We expect to benefit from the excellent quality of their product and their excellent service.”
Construction on the vaults is under way and deliveries are scheduled to begin in mid-December, according to CBC. The underground vaults are where sections of the backbone cable of the network will be spliced together. Their barrel shape allows room for coiled loops of extra cable to be used in reaching future last mile customers, or in case network repairs are needed. The 417 vaults will be placed strategically along the route at a depth of 42 inches below grade.
“Obviously it’s a nice job. It’s nice to see something happening in Nevada and the Eastern Sierra, especially given the current economic situation,” Tony Shanks, president of Jensen Precast, said about the contract. He added, “Being a local company, the manufacturing project is a positive thing.”
The $101.4 million Digital 395 project’s proposed service area encompasses 36 communities, seven Native American Reservations and two military bases. Unused, high-capacity fiber will be available to the region’s last mile providers to expand or enhance service to households and businesses; as well as to government agencies or carriers seeking local or long-haul transport. The entire project must be completed by July 31, 2013.
California Broadband Cooperative, Inc. is a not-for-profit California Consumer Cooperative Corporation formed for the purposes of owning and operating the Digital 395 network, which will provide high-speed broadband services to its members on a wholesale, open-access basis. As a cooperative, the organization will be under the direction of a Board of Directors representing key institutions and constituents in the Eastern Sierra.
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