Construction crews are hitting the streets of Bishop to install fiber-optic cables that could provide residents with improved Internet capabilities.
Contractors with Praxis, the company building the Digital 395 project, started work on Bishop streets Thursday, April 4, and are scheduled to complete their work in town in the next few weeks. Until the project is complete, residents can expect some traffic delays on city streets.
The work on City of Bishop streets is taking place under an agreement between the city and the California Broadband Cooperative, the group that owns and will operate Digital 395. Crews are also beginning work alongside U.S. 395 south of Big Pine.
According to the Bishop Public Works Department, city streets that will be affected by the work include Sierra, East Yaney, Spruce, East Pine, East Line, South Third, East Jay, Mandich, South Fowler, West South and Warren streets and Hanby Avenue. State highways such as Main and West Line streets, as well as some county roads, will also be affected.
The conduit in the city will be installed by boring, which means there won’t be extensive trenching along the streets. “Although there won’t be trenching, installing conduit by boring does require that pits be excavated every few hundred feet along the streets,” a press release from Bishop Public Works states. “In addition to the boring pits, numerous manholes and vaults will also be installed. As with most construction, there will be numerous inconveniences while work is under way.”
Public Works staff went on to say that equipment, workers and excavations in the street “will require attention, impact traffic and impact parking at times.”
While fiber-optic installation is under way in Bishop, residents can expect lane and street closures.
“The city will work with Digital 395 to minimize the impacts and restrictions, but residents, drivers and pedestrians should be cautious, take alternate routes when available, be alert for hidden hazards, and be patient with some inconvenience and with delays,” the press release states.
Project-wide, Praxis is looking at completion this July. On his blog, which can be found at www.digital395.com/blog/ , Praxis CEO Mike Ort said construction agreements are in place for all but three sections of the project. All three of those sections are located in Mono County.
“This means that construction can proceed in the remaining areas that have been awaiting approval,” Ort said. “Very exciting news.”
Ort said earlier this year that some of the challenges Praxis has faced since starting the project have included inclement weather in Mono County in the form of snow and freezing conditions, contending with endangered species habitats and working around and under more than 350 culturally sensitive sites along the Digital 395 route.
Ort said the project has included digging trenches for the fiber-optic cable through 178 miles of desert tortoise habitat, and only encountered the protected species on the China Lake Navel Weapon’s Base south of Inyo County.
“So far, we’ve spent $23 million on environmental permits and avoidance” of culturally sensitive sites, he said. “It’s become a very substantial part of the budget.”
Once construction is complete in Inyo County, the Digital 395 project will have connectivity from local communities to Barstow, the southern end of the project. Ort said there is still significant construction to be done in Mono County and in Nevada, in addition to Inyo County.
The project is scheduled for completion July 31.