County secures $1.7 million grant for broadband

Department of Local Affairs funds help cover phase II of middle mile infrastructure

Sept. 7, 2022

Garfield County has secured a more than $1.7 million grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to help complete phase II of its middle mile broadband project. The DOLA grant is being matched by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds awarded to the county to help realize the project, which expands broadband service to underserved locations throughout Garfield County.

The first phase of the project, which is underway and expected to be completed this year, includes construction of lateral fiber from middle mile infrastructure along the Interstate 70 corridor that connects with carrier neutral locations in Glenwood Springs and Rifle. The second phase entails construction and placement of the lateral fiber lines and carrier neutral locations in Parachute, Silt, and New Castle, to better expand service options.

Once the infrastructure is in place, private broadband providers may offer services to the more remote areas of the county. The county is partnering with Montrose-based nonprofit Region 10, which leverages resources to help provide affordable, high-speed Internet service to Western Slope communities, to realize a robust broadband network.

“There are a lot of exciting partnerships that have taken place to get us to this point, including Region 10, NeoConnect, and the local municipalities,” said Garfield County Finance Director Jamaica Watts. “We already have some preliminary engineering underway for phase II, and we’ll soon put out bids for materials.”

The third phase of the project comprises the construction of “last mile” service that would reach customers who live outside of current service areas. Watts said that the county has written a letter of intent to the Advance Colorado Broadband Grant Program seeking interest in the estimated $136 million it would take to implement fiber lines that would reach every home in the county.

According to its website, Advance Colorado Broadband is a “state-managed grant program that deploys federal funding for projects that invest in capital assets” to help connect all Coloradans to reliable broadband service.

The commissioners approved the grant agreement unanimously, 3-0.