Officials are making plans for the second part of a fiber loop that will connect the Transportation Research Center to Dublin.
At a recent meeting of the U.S. 33 Innovation Corridor Council of Governments, Marysville Information Technology Director Aaron Story said construction on the local loop will begin in June or July, “probably with a fall completion date.” Thom Slack, with the Ohio Department of Transportation said it likely would be mid year 2019 before the project is complete.
“This fiber run doesn’t really have a hard end date like the other fiber,” Story said.
The local loop will begin at the Traffic Research Center in East Liberty, along Northwest Parkway then south along Industrial Parkway, connecting into Dublin’s Dublink fiber at U.S. 33/Route 161. Recently, the first phase of the loop, from Dublin to TRC along U.S. 33 became operational. County and city officials had pledged to pay for the loop but last year the state and federal governments awarded local grants to help pay for the project.
City Manager Terry Emery said news about fiber availability is getting to businesses and those businesses are interested in the fiber timeline.
“Something else that’s starting to happen is we are starting to get inquiries,” Emery said.
He explained that he got a recent inquiry from a business, interested in locating to the area and connecting to the fiber, “once the fiber is in place and up and running.”
“We are gong to have to be in a position, here in the next couple of months, to really let these people know not only the timing but the logistics of what would need to take place to get them tied in,” Emery said.
He added that the CoG was initially created to generate business interest and economic opportunity.
“And that certainly is happening,” Emery said.
Union County Commissioner Steve Stolte said he would like to have the project completed.
“From the county standpoint, I think we would like to see that fiber completed by the end of next year,” Stolte said.
Slack said he believes the fiber can be lit by that time, even if the final touches are not on the project.
Story said laying fiber along U.S. 33 went much faster than the local loop will go.
“Coming through Marysville is going to be a bit slow,” Story said. “There is some very big obstacles we are going to have to deal with.”
He said contractors will need to deal with utility lines. He also said the city’s town run “will be something we will need to deal with.”
Story said the Ohio Department of Transportation has dictated a portion of the fiber’s path.
“There were some areas in town ODOT wanted to hit as we zig-zaged through town,” said Story.
He added that a 10-mile stretch of the local loop has already been bored. He said a contractor was laying fiber from Columbus to Honda for another project. The county paid $435,000 for that company to bore lines for its fiber along side the company fiber on Industrial Parkway from the city limits to state Route 161.
“That’s 10 miles we won’t need to wait to do, 10 miles of a very congested area,” Story said.
Story also said WoW left some equipment, including a splice case, on North Maple Street near the high school. He said WoW has given the GoG permission to use the case. Story said this will help connect fiber from the schools to the new fiber on U.S. 33. Story said the city and schools cannot tap into the fiber on U.S. 33 until an agreement is reached detailing who owns the fiber and the data associated with it. Union County Economic Development Director Eric Phillips has been working on the agreement for months.
Slack said there is no plan for how the fiber will be laid. He said that will be the decision of the project manager and the construction company.
Phillips said the CoG is very close to hiring a project manager. The group has for months been working to hire a project manager to coordinate the local fiber loop and manage the grants that will be used to pay for it. Officials said they have already started to tap into the grant funding. Phillips said there are four project manager candidates still under consideration. He said he is hopeful to have a project manager by the end of they year.
Phillips said he was recently in Michigan meeting with car manufacturers.
“The goal was to introduce them to the corridor, which most of the companies were not aware of what we we’re working on. They are doing a lot in the state up north right now in this realm,” Phillips said.
He added, “We are excited about the opportunities this might hold for us in the future, especially with maybe testing at TRC, working with OSU and some of our assets.”
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