D1, partners install fiber optics to improve connectivity of assets          

Years after installing conduit throughout the region, District 1 initiated partnerships this past construction season to fill the conduit with fiber optics—an investment in infrastructure that will enhance connectivity, help ITD diagnose and solve transportation issues more efficiently, and ease the transportation of goods and services to further the economic opportunity of the area.

D1 worked with Syringa Networks and Fatbeam LLC to install 56 miles of fiber optics along Interstate 90 and state highways, allowing for the future connection of signals, interchanges, cameras, traffic counters, dynamic messaging signs and maintenance sheds.

Before these partnerships, the district only had fiber optics along 7.5 miles of highway, D1 GIS analyst Rob Beachler said.

Connecting the entire district via fiber optics will enable engineers to observe traffic flow and to remotely adjust the timing of signals, eliminating the need for ITD electricians to be on site. Traffic engineers can also scan for crashes and coordinate with other agencies through fiber optics to respond in a more timely manner, Beachler said.

Beachler said the communications providers outfitted the Cedars and Wolf Lodge maintenance sheds on I-90 with internet for the first time, and although D1 still has 40 miles of fiber optics to install and two sheds along I-90 to connect, the district is on the verge of developing a network capable of potentially supporting a regional traffic center in the future.

“We would then have the backbone to connect signals in the entire Kootenai County metro area,” Beachler said. “The ITD fiber backbone could serve a regional traffic center.”

Improved connectivity comes at no cost to the district, which had the foresight to install empty conduit along major highways during earlier construction projects. D1 initiated long-term shared resource agreements with the communications providers to populate its empty conduit with fiber optics. The district increased connectivity in the metro area, and the providers now offer high-speed internet services to other organizations by extending beyond the primarily line, Beachler said.

Through this partnership, Fatbeam has been able to offer high-speed internet to rural schools along US-95 and Idaho Highway 54, and Syringa Networks has connected to the Idaho Department of Labor and DMV in Post Falls along I-90. With the help of ITD, both providers have advanced the economic opportunity of the area by offering essential services that were previously not available to local businesses, Beachler said.

D1 will continue to partner with communications providers in coming years to achieve complete connectivity capable of improving traffic management.

Published 12-15-17