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New Fiber Optics set to be utilized by county and city

January 24, 2019

Speed, capacity, durability and reliability.

These were all words Mayor Jim Bulkley used when describing why the new fiber optics system anticipated to be utilized by the city and county will be beneficial for all parties involved.

During this week’s Columbus City Council meeting, the governing body approved the plans, specifications, and RVW Architect’s estimated construction cost of $500,000 in regard to the installation of fiber optics that would be utilized by the city and county’s important hubs. As part of the approval process, the council also voted to authorize city staff to advertise for bids relating to the construction.

“The courthouse, city hall, the wastewater treatment plant, the jail, the new (E-911 Joint) communication center, those areas we know need the utmost reliability and speed,” Bulkley said of the rationale behind moving forward with implementing the new fiber optics system. “It’s overdue, it’s something we need and it was budgeted to be done.”

Other city/county entities set to benefit from the upgrade during its first phase include: Columbus Public Library, Columbus Police Department, Columbus Parks Department, CAT, Central Maintenance and Columbus Fire Department.

Fiber optics are thin, flexible fibers of glass or other transparent solids to transmit light signals, largely used for telecommunications purposes. Bulkley said that the Nebraska Public Power District is also expected to have some financial input with the project and be looped into the projects capabilities, but that it’s predominately expected to be a city/county endeavor.

The project, which calls for the majority of the fiber optics to be installed underground, is expected to get going sometime this year and wrap up sometime in 2020, Bulkley said, noting an exact time frame isn’t set in stone.

He added that the Columbus Public Schools District was notified about the proposed project, however, CPS representatives are currently in the process of installing their own telecommunications network for optimal performance to meet district needs, Bulkley said.

With approval, Bulkley is optimistic that the city will soon start accepting Request for Proposal (RFP) submissions from prospect contractors. Staff Report information shows that the county also has $500,000 budgeted for the proposed project and that the fiber optics project wouldn’t be able to move forward without approval through the Platte County Board of Supervisors. During it’s Tuesday morning meeting, the board announced it’s intention to navigate through the bidding process in February.

“It will go out for bid here in the very near future, that is part of what was taken care (Monday evening),” the mayor said. “(On Monday) We approved to get those bids going, and we would expect three to four companies to bid. But it’s another thing to think they will bid and then another thing to have it actually happen, so we will have to see how that plays out.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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