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A rock trenching machine, specifically designed to cut into hard rock, creates an 11-inch-wide, 4-foot-deep trench to lay fiber optic cable.
A rock trenching machine, specifically designed to cut into hard rock, creates an 11-inch-wide, 4-foot-deep trench to lay fiber optic cable.
After an air compressor blew fiber optic cable into the duct, more than 4,000 feet of cable was coiled in a Figure 8 prior to being moved just south of Coalgate, Okla. Crews inspect the nearly mile-long Roosevelt Bridge across Lake Texoma prior to installing a 4-inch stainless steel conduit between Kingston and Durant, Okla. Near Interstate 35, the contractor plowed a 4-foot-deep trench and laid conduit along right-of-way leading into Ardmore, Okla. The trenching machine prepared a 54-mile-long route for the underground fiber optic cable along U.S. 70 between Ardmore and Madill, Okla. A rock trenching machine, specifically designed to cut into hard rock, creates an 11-inch-wide, 4-foot-deep trench to lay fiber optic cable.

Going The Distance

Oklahoma lays 1,050 miles of fiber optic cable

The State of Oklahoma has invested in technological development with the Oklahoma Broadband Initiative, a statewide effort to increase access to broadband services for hospitals, universities and state agencies.

With demand for broadband access increasing from key institutions in rural areas, Oklahoma launched the initiative to extend services with fiber optic cable, which can transmit broadband signals safely, cost effectively and efficiently over long distances. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) oversaw the design and installation of 1,050 miles of fiber optic cable—over twice the length of Oklahoma.

ODOT worked with multiple firms to design and install the cable system. Garver provided preliminary and final design, construction services, geographic information systems (GIS) mapping and utility mapping for 145 miles, from Ardmore to Ada. Because the majority of the cable's route lay within ODOT right-of-way, close coordination with the agency was required to identify rights-of-way limits and utilities in the fiber optic path.

Utility surveys were performed to enable efficient fiber optic routing over such a long distance. Laying the cable required trenching, plowing, cutting through rock and crossing bridges. Fiber optic cable, which is made of sheathed glass filaments, is unable to make sharp turns, which added another layer of design complexity.

Engineers and construction observers in four Garver offices pooled resources to ensure the project was completed within schedule. "It was definitely a combined effort," said Garver Project Leader Alan Miner, PE. "The project involved interaction with ODOT staff and the program manager on an almost daily basis to ensure we met their requirements in a timely fashion."

Garver designed connections to community anchor sites along the cable's route and created Visio® diagrams for each anchor point to ensure accurate patch panel connections. Along with designing broadband infrastructure, Garver added the rights-of-way, utilities and fiber optic system along the cable route to the state's GIS database. During construction, Garver provided resident engineering and on-site inspection services for 100 miles of cable installation as well as as-built drawings for all 145 miles of cable.

"ODOT's timelines for the design work were incredibly compressed and the inspection process difficult due to the distances of each construction project," said ODOT ITS and Fiber Optic Engineering Manager Alan Stevenson. "ODOT appreciates the professionalism and the cooperation of Garver with these projects."

The fiber optic installation is complete. When the entire broadband network is active, numerous universities, hospitals and emergency response institutions will have greater broadband access and information technology capabilities to better serve their communities.

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