The people involved in the major broadband internet project for the Eastern Sierra known as Digital 395 wait on edge to hear about major federal stimulus funding.
One of those people, Michael Ort of Praxis, said this week that there is no definite news yet. Ort said by statute, all funds will be awarded by September 30th. Some announcements were made this month, and Ort thinks they will know in the next 60 days.
The State Public Utilities Commission did agree to contribute $20 million to the some $100 million project. Proponents hope the federal stimulus plan will pay $80 million. The project includes 400 miles of fiber optic cable which would tie the Eastern Sierra into areas north and south and give us new and improved high-speed internet service and create a communication redundancy for the state.
Michael Ort said he and others are meeting with Caltrans locally to make sure when the clock starts, they can hit the ground running with permits and environmental documents. He will also meet with BLM and the Forest Service. Ort said DWP has been “extremely supportive.”
Ort added that the Governor’s office has helped this project through the steps and will continue to help if and when funding comes through.