Athens city news reports that the County is considering an option to lay fiber optic cables along with the sewer ducts. The long-awaited and delayed project is now expected to be in the bidding process by this year summer.
Athens County assumes that it would receive a minimum amount of signed assessments, which is required to start the bidding process. The West sever expansion project has been dormant for the past 23 years. Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason confirmed via email last week that the county is still waiting to receive many of the easements from property owners in the project area southwest of Athens, who must permit the county to work on their properties in order to complete the project.
Frank Lavelle, the Athens attorney who has been handling the easement process for the county, has subcontracted agents to actively work to obtain the easements. A quick agreement process will help the county execute the proejct also quickly. All easements are not required to start the project. Currently approximately 60 percent of the easements have been received, but an 80 percent easement acquisistion will enable the county to start the bidding process.
The Online News portal reports that the Sewer-Expansion Project has been on Athens County’s radar for 23 years, since the state EPA sent a notice in 1995 detailing environmental concerns related to the use of septic-tank systems in rural residential areas southwest of Athens. The project has been approved to receive US$14.3 million of funding as a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and another $14.5 million in funding from the USDA as a 40-year loan with 2 percent interest, according to previous Athens NEWSreports.
Sewer duct environment requires sepcial designs for the fiber optic cable, depending on the nature of placement of the cable. Typically, steel wires are used to provide armor protection to the inner core of the cable. In addition to rodent protection, this makes the cable stable during the sewage water flow. Special sheath materials may be required as per the regulation pertaining to each country.
It is estimated that the expansion project cost would be US$1.9 million in total, including Phase I, II and III engineering, design, loan applications, environmental reports, surveying and bidding. An additional cost of US$850,000 is also considered for legal and land acquisition.
Sewer duct networks enter to each and every home and commercial building. If fiber optic cables could be laid along with the sewer duct lines, it would save additional construction cost for a separate broadband network. Fiber optic cables are thin and does not occupy more space. It is easier to attach a smaller conduit for fiber optic cables along with the sewer duct.
The county already has hired a law firm to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) from companies that could potentially install the conduit. Ice Miller LLP, a law firm based in Indianapolis, with a closer office in Columbus, officially entered into a contract with the county on Jan. 3.