Despite environmental concerns being voiced about the Digital 395 broadband project, a spokesperson for the developer said work will be moving forward with little or no delay.
Elizabeth Glazner, communications director for Praxis Associates, said agencies such as the California Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have raised a number of concerns about potential impacts resulting from Digital 395, which aims to construct a 583-mile fiber-optic underground cable network along U.S. 395 from Barstow to Carson City.
“With any project like this, there are right-of-way issues and concerns about wildlife,” Glazner said. “We have taken great measures to protect wildlife.”
To install the fiber-optic cable, Praxis and its subcontractors – on behalf of the California Broadband Cooperative – will dig a 42-inch deep trench along the highway.
Before digging can begin, Glazner said the CBC must obtain a Finding of No Significant Impact document from the state. She said the CBC expects to have that document in hand at the beginning of April.
“With a project of this magnitude there are always going to be delays,” Glazner said. “Once the FONSI is done, we should be able to break ground.”
When the project is completed, remote areas of Inyo County will have access to high-speed Internet services.
“Much of the region between Carson City and Barstow has limited, insufficient broadband middle-mile capabilities,” a press release from CBC states. “The telecommunications system is dependent on decades-old telephone infrastructure, leaving wide swaths of the Eastern Sierra region of California and Nevada underserved.”
The project’s service area encompasses 36 communities, six Indian reservations, two military bases, 26,000 households and 2,500 businesses. In addition, 35 public safety entities, 47 K-12 schools, 13 libraries, two community colleges, two universities, 15 healthcare facilities and 104 government offices will also be served, as well as the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab, the White Mountain Research Station and the California Institute of Technology Owens Valley Radio Observatory.
In addition to the provision of useful, modern technology, the CBC said the project will provide much-needed economic stimulation by creating dozens of jobs for local contractors and vendors.
Any contractor or vendor that wishes to bid on Digital 395 projects will need the appropriate bonds and insurance to work on a state-funded project.
A summary of the project is also available at California Broadband Cooperative’s Web site at www.digital395.com , and from the White House web portal at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/08/18/vice-president-bid... .
For more information on bidding on Digital 395 projects, contact Dan Stone of the Owens Valley Contractors and Vendors Association at (760) 920-8950.