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Fiber optics causes temporary headaches for city

Posted on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 8:40 am

By Barry Dalton

VANDALIA—With two major fiber projects occurring at the same time this summer, City Administrator Darren Berry informed the board of aldermen last week that requests from the companies installing the lines was creating stress for city utility staff.
“As you can imagine … this has overloaded our Utility Department on conducting locates,” Berry said. “Although having fiber internet options in Vandalia is a good thing for our city, having this many subcontractors in town was causing much stress on our city crews and also some of our citizens.”
Charter Communications Inc. (Spectrum), is working on a $2 million fiber optic project that it had announced a few weeks ago, and MissouriCom, located in New London, is in the process of expanding its service area to include Vandalia.
Before fiber cables can be installed, subcontractors must make sure there are no underground issues. This requires city utility staff to locate underground electric, water and sewer lines before any digging can begin.
Berry said he met with both MissouriCom and Spectrum to discuss these initial hurdles.
“Specifically, I addressed the amount of locates that we were getting per day,” Berry said.
A spokesperson for MissouriCom acknowledged the issue and said it’s understandable that the city administrator reached out to them.
“The MissouriCom project is going good,” Colton Richards, project manager for MissouriCom, said. “But, yes, there were a lot of locate requests from us and the other parties all at once and that was causing some problems, so that’s understandable. We’ve had to slow it down a little, work with them a little better and coordinate better.”
Berry emphasized that the installations of fiber are private projects and not a city project. He added that he has company contact information, which he can provide to anyone who has questions or problems about the installations.