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CenturyLink redundancy cable over Cottonwood Pass almost complete

Looking at next summer completion

By Cayla Vidmar

Work has gone well with the laying of new internet fiber over Cottonwood Pass that will provide broadband redundancy for the valley. Al Perez, chief engineer for the CenturyLink Cottonwood Pass “diversity project,” which will bring an alternative internet service path to the Gunnison Valley, filled in the Gunnison county commissioners on the progress of the project last week.

The internet fiber “provides another path in the event that our original path coming into the county goes down for any reason,” said Perez. The project was made a priority with the construction over Cottonwood Pass.

“Rather than have it done later and have a negative impact on reclamation and slope stability, the county worked with CenturyLink to have it done during the current road realignment and paving project,” writes deputy county manager Marlene Crosby. Perez notes that completing work over mountain passes is difficult, and explained that CenturyLink found the funding to complete this project while the Cottonwood Pass paving project was being done to mitigate some of the difficulty in doing the work.

Perez expects the project will be completed and the service will be turned on by November 2019.

Roland Mason, Gunnison county commissioner-elect, who begins his official work on the board this month, was at the meeting and asked Perez if there were plans to build infrastructure to provide Crested Butte South with CenturyLink service. Perez said it’s not in the budget, “but as long as we have handholds, we’ll have access,” meaning the fiber was installed in such a way that it will be accessible to serve other areas in the county in the future.

Commissioner John Messner noted that Crested Butte South is “one of the biggest population bases in the north end of the valley, and also one of the least served … so ideally coming up with a solution would be great.”

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