Albemarle County gives update on broadband projects, new funding

Albemarle County gives update on broadband projects, new funding

ALBEMARLE, Co., Va. (WVIR) - With some projects already underway, the Albemarle Broadband Authority (ABBA) met to discuss progress and next steps.

Because of remote working, online schools and virtual classrooms, reliable internet is so important in Albemarle County, especially in rural neighborhoods.

“That’s just how life is. We’re going to try to do the most good for the most people with the least money," said Bucky Walsh, a member of ABBA.

That goal was presented just days after the county received good news: Gov. Ralph Northam announced Albemarle County received $230,245 from the Federal CARES Act for the Burchs Creek Road Project. The initiative will extend Firefly Fiber Broadband and add another 62 fiber internet locations in the county.

The Burchs Creek Project is a broadband initiative to extend Firefly Fiber Broadband along Burchs Creek Road from the completed section nearby on Midway Road

“We wish we could’ve done more,” said Mike Culp, the Director of Information Technology. "We have several in the wings that are similar, definitely underserved areas, we just didn’t have enough time from a construction schedule.”

Those tight deadlines have persuaded the authority to send a letter to Virginia’s legislators, including Senators Kaine and Warner. They agreed to pen the letter at Wednesday’s meeting. In this letter, they’ll ask for a way to request an extension, because current projects from the CARES Fund need to be completed by the end of the year.

“We have the applications ready to submit but if the deadline’s not extended, we know we can’t complete them within the deadline,” Culp said.

“We’ve identified additional projects, the time-window of execution doesn’t allow it to be complete,” said Trever Henry, another ABBA member.

The Broadband Authority also received an update on Shentel projects. Two towers are now active: one in Crozet, and one by the Charlottesille-Albemarle Airport.

“That’s great news, things are moving on,” Culp said. "Four more sites that have been approved to be activated this year.”

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