By Shaq Davis for Arizona Daily Star
The Arizona Department of Transportation is in the early process of exploring partnerships that would lead to broadband conduit being installed along three interstate routes.
The department is following an initiative from Gov. Doug Ducey who announced in January that $50M in funding would help achieve 500 miles of broadband lines and fiber optic cabling along highway segments in rural areas of Arizona.
Ducey said these “Smart Highway Corridors” will “improve highway safety while providing future high-speed internet capacity for smart infrastructure projects in Arizona’s rural and tribal areas.”
To start, the installation would affect Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales; Interstate 17 between Sunset Point and Flagstaff; and Interstate 40 between the Arizona-New Mexico and Arizona-California borders.
The plan is for the I-17 construction to start in January 2021 and be completed in February 2022. For I-19, construction is expected to start in April 2021 and be completed in December 2021. There is currently no timetable for I-40, ADOT said.
Through public-private partnerships, officials could complete this initiative faster and with lower costs. A private partner would have more incentive to do so when responsible for operations and maintenance.
It’s why ADOT and Arizona Commerce Authority are encouraging interested industry firms and other stakeholders to respond with information about business plans, partnership methods and how the state can best expand broadband connectivity. The department is accepting submissions until 2 p.m. August 17th. These insights will help them generate a request for proposal for the projects.
The broadband conduit is already installed along parts of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson and is supplying connections for ADOT’s dust detection warning system in the Eloy area that went online in June.
Currently, ADOT has completed 129 miles of broadband out of the 1,169 total interstate miles it covers.
Read more at Arizona Daily Star.