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September 30, 2008 3:01 am

Powellink: One zone down, 12 to go

Written by Tribune Staff

First fiber optic zone tested, ready this week

The first of 13 fiber-optic zones around Powell will be up and running this week if testing goes as planned.

Construction for the Powellink project began in May and, when completed, will provide a network of fiber to every home and business in Powell.

Project Manager Ernie Bray said he expected test results for the first zone on Monday. The first zone that will be lit up is the central office zone, encompassing about 175 homes and businesses in the area of South Bent and South streets.

Residents will be alerted once the fiber network in their area is lit, he said. Tri-County Telephone (TCT) will market the service to customers as it becomes available.

TCT General Manager Chris Davidson said test customers will begin using the service once a zone is lit. They will test it for two or three weeks and report back to TCT on how it works and glitches that need to be addressed, Davidson said.

Davidson expects live service to paying customers will be available by the end of October.

Other zones should follow in quick succession over the next few weeks, Bray said.

Bray anticipates the entire network will be completed by the end of October, as scheduled.

“We should finish on time,” Bray said, “as long as we don't hit any weather days.”

The project has progressed without any major problems or weather delays this fall, said Bob Daniel, resident engineer for Mid-States Consultants, the company that has managed the overall project.

“We're almost down to the end of things,” Daniel said. “We're just tying the ends together.”

All the aerial fiber is done, Daniel said.

To construct the Powellink network, Powell was divided into 13 zones. Depending on the power supply of an area, the fiber lines were either installed aerially or underground. Nine of the 13 zones are predominately aerial, Bray said. The other four zones are predominately underground and take more time to complete.

“Obviously, they're more time and labor intensive,” Bray said.

Daniel said some utility lines were hit in the process, but they haven't had many problems.

Crews are working around town to repair asphalt and concrete, Daniel said, but some restoration — such as replanting grass seed — may have to wait until spring because of the weather.

“We're making sure everything is meticulously documented,” Bray said.

Bray said crews will return in the spring to complete anything that is not finished this fall.

City Administrator Zane Logan said the city has received complaints about construction and landscaping concerns, but he assured residents that everything will be put back the way it was.

“It's all being documented,” he said. “If it's not fixed this fall, it definitely will be next spring.”

When a fiber network is installed in an existing city, Logan said it's “quite an undertaking.”

“It's been a massive amount of work and time,” he said.

However, Logan said it's worth it. He hopes city residents will appreciate the significance of the project “after the dust settles, the sidewalks are fixed and the lawns are restored.”

The $4.9-million revenue-bond project is a joint venture between the city of Powell and the Northwest Joint Powers Board, along with some private sector partners.

The general contractor is MasTec, Inc. The company's fiber-optic division is based in Shevlin, Minn.

Bray founded U.S. MetroNets, based in Draper, Utah. The company partnered with the City of Powell to implement the citywide fiber-to-the-home network.

For more information, contact the Powellink office at 764-6500.