News Staff Writer
ALPENA - For more than a year Alpena County and the City of Alpena have been working together to finance the installation of fiber through the M-32 corridor. The fiber along M-32 will be put in place by Merit, but branches of it that will run to city and county facilities need to be installed by private contractors. During Wednesday's Alpena County Finance Committee meeting the county entered approved hiring Thunder Bay Electric to run the fiber arms from the highway.
The two routes Thunder Bay Electric will install will be from the courthouse on Chisholm Street to the intersection of M-32 and Bagley Street. Once complete the cemetery, which is owned and operated by the city, will receive the fiber upgrade. Further west the contractor will install fiber down Airport Road the the Michigan Department of Transportation, Alpena County Regional Airport and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.
Commissioner Lyle VanWormer said the cost of the project for the two fiber installations will be $41,125 and both the city and the county will pay $20,262.50 to have the work done. The cost was about $10,000 under what was budgeted for.
VanWormer said having the fiber available to the county's property at the airport is important as it tries to stir economic development in the vicinity of the airport. He said having high speed internet available could also help with the current unmanned aircraft project.
"This has fallen right in line with our other projects at the airport," VanWormer said. "It works for the city for where they need fiber and to have them help share the cost is beneficial to both. It is just one more of those things that when people come looking for property they want to see. For our drone project it is a huge advantage to have it. Long term it will also be beneficial to the property on the east side of the airport, because it will be in place when the time comes for that to take off."
The county was hoping having fiber available would generate revenue. Originally the Michigan State Police Alpena Post would have entered into an agreement to access the fiber. Now it appears it will not. VanWormer said he still believes MDOT, another state department will still use the fiber service.
VanWormer said the M-32 portion of the installation is ongoing and Thunder Bay Electric's work will begin shortly. He said he is hopeful the project can be completed by the end of April.
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com