BY CHELSEA BRENNAN
The City of Salisbury began construction to lay fiber optic conduit last month as part of its planned $5 million Main Street Improvements Project.
Salisbury is among one of the first cities in the United States to upgrade from coaxial cable to fiber optic cable. The installation of the fiber optic conduit is part of the larger outlook of the project.
Main Street Improvements Project contains three phases that span over a three year time period. Phase two of construction began on Oct 13. and is estimated to take one year to complete.This project has been in the works for over 10 years.
“The Urban Salisbury Group conceptualized and published the Downtown enhancement plan in 2005-2006,” Deputy Director of Public Works Department Amanda Pollack said.
With the effort and support of community organizations, the City began planning to repair the streets and sidewalks, remove and extend bricked areas from The Plaza onto Main Street, while installing new street lights, signs and landscape. Over the years, the City decided to also repair the utilities located underground.
“When you’re about to do that much work on the street it only makes since to start looking at utilities,” Pollack said. “So we hired an engineer and did a study to see the condition of the water main, sewer main and the storm drain. They were all in need of replacement.”
According to Pollack, while the construction is taking place in the Downtown area, the City concluded it was the best time to also install fiber wire conduit on Main Street.
“If we went back in the future to add broadband, we would be tearing up brand new sidewalks to do it,” Pollack said. “So we are including it in the project as well.”
The fiber wire conduit is a 4-inch diameter pipe meant to protect the fiber optic cable underground, estimated to cost $146,000. The City plans to sell the conduit to Maryland Broadband Cooperative (MBC) and in return the MBC will assume the cost of the fiber optic cable, installation, and maintenance.
The MBC will later install the fiber optic cable in the last phases of the Main Street Improvements Project.
Robbie Sheehan, Salisbury University Deputy Chief of Staff, said that Main Street business and residents will benefit from the fiber optic cable installation by having the fastest Internet in Maryland.
The Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative, which is jointly sponsored by Salisbury University and two other councils, has plans to move to the Salisbury Downtown Building in The Plaza to take advantage of the faster Internet.
“One of the programs that’s moving down there is the Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC). They do mapping for services for governmental agencies and private business,” Sheehan said. “A lot of what they do is very Internet intensive, making sure all there mapping applications are up to date. So that is really awesome that they will have access to the Internet capabilities.”
The Tri-Community Mediation is another organization located near The Plaza that is looking forward to the benefits of faster Internet.
Amber Green, a Re-entry Coordinator with Tri-Community Mediation, believes the faster Internet will enhance their office’s day-to-day operations, communication with customers and attract new businesses to the City.
“It’s going to be good for the new businesses that are coming,” Green said. “Fiber optics is not anywhere on the Shore.”
KCI Technologies has been hired by the Office of Public Works to oversee the project and manage public outreach.
Updates of the project’s progress will be posted on http://www.ci.salisbury.md.us/business/main-street-construction-project.