While the Utah Department of Transportation was working on a road improvement project along I-84 between Tremonton and Snowville this year, the state agency was also installing more than 40 miles of fiber optic cable along the roadway to help improve internet access in rural areas of Box Elder County.
UDOT announced last week that it is in the final stages of installing a fiber conduit system in Box Elder County “to increase internet connectivity for communities and to enhance mobility and safety on Utah’s highways,” according to a press release.
The project is being paid for with federal coronavirus relief funds. The Utah Legislature allocated $8 million in CARES Act funding to UDOT to support the building of roadway fiber optic infrastructure, which will provide broadband connectivity in rural communities in Box Elder County for critical needs including telemedicine, distance learning and telecommuting.
UDOT has been busy installing 42 miles of fiber along I-84 from Tremonton to the Idaho state line. Extension from the main freeway corridor are also being put in to bring the fiber to the Howell post office, as well as to UDOT maintenance stations in Bothwell and Snowville, creating wi-fi hospots in areas that didn’t previously have them.
“Providing these Wi-Fi hotspots to connect rural communities to online resources could not have come at a more essential time,” UDOT Fiber Optics Manager Lynne Yocom said. “This fiber network will make an immediate impact, but also lay the groundwork for a connected future.”
Numerous partners came together and built the project in the accelerated timeframe needed to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for using the CARES Act funding. Partnering entities for the I-84 project include UDOT, Beehive Broadband, SCI, Strata, Utah Education and Telehealth Network, Utah Department of Technology Services, Utah Communications Authority, and the Utah Department of Public Safety.
“This connectivity is extremely important for the general health and welfare of our residents,” said Box Elder County Commissioner Stan Summers. “We are grateful to the many amazing partners for making such a big impact in our communities.”
The fiber being installed for both projects will expand UDOT’s Advanced Traffic Management System to improve transportation mobility and safety. It will allow UDOT to install additional cameras, weather stations and other sensors to provide real-time information about Utah’s roads. The projects will also contrilbute to UDOT’s focus in creating information highways for connected and automated vehicle capabilities.