Fiber optic project makes headway in Stephenson County

By Travis Morse

Freeport, Ill. —

Read the full article at The Journal-Standard

Organizers say the $69 million broadband project for this region hit a major milestone this week after construction crews moved into the Stephenson County area for the first time.

The Illinois Fiber Resources Group (iFiber) announced Wednesday that crews from Aldridge Electric and Kelso-Burnett have begun “plowing conduit” for the initiative from Forreston to Freeport, partly in Ogle County and partly in Stephenson County. Plowing conduit refers to the process of laying in new fiber optic cable that will eventually make up the high-speed broadband network.

“As a milestone, it’s the first entry into Stephenson County by our construction crews,” said Daniel Payette, this region’s outreach coordinator of the broadband effort. He added that the crews are on schedule in terms of the project’s overall timeline. “They’ve been managing to keep to the general construction guidelines they’ve established.”

A ground-breaking ceremony was held in late August to signal the start of construction for the broadband project. The iFiber Group, which is coordinating the initiative, has chosen three firms to handle the construction. The first contractor chosen was the PirTano Construction Company, which is working on the northwest section of the project that includes Jo Daviess, Lee, Carroll, and Whiteside counties.

The final two contractors selected, Aldridge Electric and Kelso-Burnett, are working as a team to complete the eastern portion of the project, which includes Stephenson, Ogle, Boone, LaSalle, and Winnebago counties.

The current plan is to install 637 miles of new fiber, and to incorporate 233 miles of existing fiber into the system, creating a nearly 900-mile network across Northwest Illinois. The project is designed to improve high-speed Internet access for schools, hospitals, and government buildings in the region, and the goal is to concentrate on under-served areas.

Ongoing Work

Crews deployed for the project have been working in this region since August. They have been installing conduit along the following areas: Business 20, from Belvidere to Rockford; directional drilling, in both Belvidere and Rockford; directional drilling on Route 251, from Illinois 72 (Davis Junction) to Illinois 64; plowing on Illinois 64, from Oregon to Route 251; and plowing along Illinois 72 to the Stephenson County line. Crews also plan to do some work from Cedarville to Orangeville.

Fiber optic construction will occur within the dedicated roadway right-of-way, states an iFiber news release. During construction of the network, residents may see cable boring equipment in their neighborhood, as well as hand-hole construction crews, the release states.

Crews also may have staked or painted to identify infrastructure in the area. Disturbed areas will be restored as part of the project, the release states.

Read the full article at The Journal-Standard


Tags: fiber optic, iFiber, Illinois Broadband, Stephenson County

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