Bedrock Drives Up Fiber Project Costs in Logansport, Ind.

The fiber-optic expansion initially estimated at $190,000 has jumped to $300,000 because of limestone deposits in the area.

by Mitchell Kirk, Pharos-Tribune / July 27, 2018
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(TNS) — A Logansport, Ind., board is considering supplying up to $300,000 to pay for making fiber-optic cable service available on part of the city's south side and its industrial park.

The Logansport Redevelopment Commission had originally been considering a sole bid of $190,000 from Evansville-based Metronet for the high-speed communication line project, but an unanticipated excess of limestone in the area is driving the cost up.

Tom Decker, community development manager for Metronet, told redevelopment commission members on Wednesday that the company was recently carrying out a fiber project for Logansport State Hospital south of town when it discovered the limestone issue.

"We did count on hitting bedrock at some point but had no idea it was going to be to this extent," Decker said.

With Logansport Municipal Utilities' permission to use its utility poles for running the fiber-optic cable above ground as much as possible, Decker said Metronet found another route for the south side and Logansport/Cass County Industrial Park project.

But the changes could result in a total cost of almost $300,000, Decker continued. If the redevelopment commission agreed to that cap, he said Metronet would take on any additional costs.

Should the commission decide to move forward, Decker indicated Metronet would ask for $150,000 up front to help fund the special boring equipment the project will require.

Bill Cuppy, president of the Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization, explained on Thursday that the proposed route for the fiber-optic cable would start at Metronet's existing transformer near 18th and Main streets before heading south on 18th Street/150 East to 300 South, where it would continue west to 50 East before making its way south into the city's industrial park and nearby Logansport/Cass County Airport.

Cuppy said at Wednesday's redevelopment commission meeting that the project would result in companies along 18th Street/150 East having access to high-speed fiber-optic cable service along with the companies in the industrial park and airport.

It would aid economic development "immensely," Cuppy said. Many industrial parks don't have fiber-optic service, he continued, as they're typically rural and it's not cost effective to run the service out to them.

Cuppy said bringing fiber-optic cable to those areas wouldn't necessarily be a deterrent, but would be a selling point, particularly for the industrial park's four empty lots and one empty building. It would be instrumental in landing any kind of company in the technology field, he continued.

Scott Kraud, president of the redevelopment commission, said at Wednesday's meeting that he supports the project but before voting would like to study an itemized list breaking out Metronet's projected cost. Decker indicated Metronet's willingness to do so as long as proprietary information would not be made public.

Cuppy suggested the funds for the project could come from the redevelopment commission's industrial park tax increment financing fund.

The redevelopment commission manages Logansport's tax increment financing districts, one of which encompasses the industrial park. When a TIF district is created, tax revenue generated by new development is collected and can be used to fund redevelopment or economic development purposes in that area.

The redevelopment commission took Metronet's proposal under advisement Wednesday.

©2018 the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.