According to Diana Garrett, Communications Director for Praxis, the project management company for Digital 395, “Digital 395 is currently working on the conduit south of Mammoth and north of Mammoth. We are working on the backbone connection back up to Lee Vining and also working on connection south to Bishop. All of that will be completed atsome point in January if the weather holds.”
“Our biggest hurdle is weather conditions,” she added.
There has, however, been at least one other hurdle along the way, according to District 2 Supervisor-Elect Fred Stump.
Stump reported to the Mono County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 20 that the contractor laying the conduit hit a main water line belonging to the Mountain Meadows Mutual Water Company in Crowley on Friday, Nov. 16 and ripped a hole in the pipe.
The pipe was a high-pressure line, Stump said and approximately 400,000 gallons of water were lost. The water was turned off and the section of the hole was isolated.
“A few fire hydrants had to be disabled,” Stump added, but luckily there are no houses that currently rely on those hydrants.
Stump wasn’t sure why the pipe, which is located 5 feet deep, was hit since the conduit is being laid 3 feet deep, but he said the problem had been fixed by Saturday afternoon, Nov. 17.
The D395 projects consists of a 432 strand high-capacity fiber cable that will connect roughly 250 government, educational, and medical ‘anchor’ facilities along the route. It will also serve as a much needed ‘backhaul’ for telecommunication companies who distribute cellular and Internet services to subscribers throughout the area.
According to a recent Mono County press release, “After nearly two years of patiently wading through a permitting and cultural review process that involved more than forty different agencies and resulted in over a hundred different issued permits, construction on Digital 395 began earlier this summer. The construction portion of the project is being headed up by Praxis Associates, who has three separate sub-contractors doing work simultaneously along the route.”
In Mono County, construction began in August in downtown Bridgeport, then quickly moved west out of town and through the Bridgeport Valley. Since that time, crews have completed the segment between Bridgeport and Coleville, in addition to significant portions of the route outside of Mono County. Construction recently began on the segments immediately south of Highway 203, and will begin in the areas between Bridgeport and Mammoth in the coming weeks, according to the press release.
Praxis President and CEO Michael Ort reported last week that the nodes have been installed. A node, according to www.digital395.com, is a building on an Internet network where three major things occur:
“(1) the fiber optic signals – which have a limited range – can be regenerated. There is special equipment that does this; (2) Internet traffic can be distributed from the backbone to local areas in a town by bringing smaller cables into it to serve local customers, and (3) it provides a conditioned environment (air conditioning, uninterrupted power, security) for other service providers to locate their equipment to interconnect to our network.”
According to Ort, next steps include:
Starting work from Mammoth north along Inyo National Forest lands toward June Lake; Constructing south of Bridgeport; Finishing the section south of Devil’s Gate; Placing cable as soon as sections get completed; and Virginia Lakes & back down to 395.
Visit the project’s interactive website, www.digital395.com, which provides an interactive map that shows county segment profiles and photographs of work in progress. The map is updated in real time as new construction gets underway.
Photo courtesy Ron Day