Those at work to create Digital 395, which is 583 miles of fiber optic cable through our two counties, now wade through a maze of bureaucracies to get permits and meet environmental standards.
Back in August, the high speed internet project did receive more than $80 million in federal stimulus funds on top of a State grant of $20 million. The fiber line will go in a trench along side of Highway 395 from Barstow to Carson City. The plan includes connection of hospitals, schools, libraries, military bases, local governments and private citizens to a high-speed broadband network.
Michael Ort, of Praxis, a company at work on the design of the project, said that the focus now is primarily around environmental assessment and permits from a couple of dozen agencies. He called it a highly complex project that has made new demands on agencies like Caltrans, BLM, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Forest Service, LADWP and EPA – just to name a few.
Local project manager, Randy Pearce, who is stationed in Bishop, said that what is most needed is “common sense cooperation.” Michael Ort said that he’s fine plugging way at it. He pointed to the challenges as the scale of the project, the number of involved parties and a time limit. Those involved have to spend their $100 million as of July of 2013.
Ort is scheduled to appear at the Mono County Collaborative Planning Team meeting later this month for a complete update. That meeting is scheduled for next Thursday, January 27th at 9am at the Town/County Conference Room in the Minaret Village Mall in Mammoth.