Vidalia fiber installation slated to begin Monday

Published 12:11 am Saturday, November 29, 2014

VIDALIA — Work to install the fiber-optic cable that will eventually connect the City of Vidalia to ultra-high speed Internet access will begin Monday.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the installation of the cable across the Mississippi River bridge will take six to eight weeks.

“They will be installing it on the south bridge, which is the wider of the bridges,” Copeland said. “We are going to have one lane closed and officers out there to ensure a good flow of traffic.”

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Grady Crawford Construction of Baton Rouge will install the line under the bridge. The company was awarded the job in early November for entering a low bid of $322,550.

Getting to install the cable on the U.S. 84 bridge required the city to get special permission from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which maintains both spans of the structure.

MDOT does not usually allow the running of utilities on structures it controls, but in late October the Mississippi Transportation Commission granted an exception because the city was able to demonstrate alternate routes were not an option.

When fully installed, the fiber optic will be part of a city-wide network that officials have said will deliver 1-gigabyte per second speed Internet service to businesses, industry and eventually homes in the area.

As part of the larger broadband effort, the city is building the Vidalia Technology Center, a $1.2 million project funded by the U.S. Commerce Department that will house the broadband infrastructure and spaces for the development of digital-market businesses.

The VTC will be located on the North Spruce Street site of the former City Hall, which has been demolished and cleared away.

Copeland said he does not know for sure when construction on the VTC will start, but the project has a three-year window and he expects some work to begin in the next 60 to 90 days.