City and County Partner to Build Out Fiber Network

The city of Columbus, Neb., and Platte County have both selected a local contractor to install fiber, rather than each doing their own project. The project will establish connections between several government agencies.

by Sam Pimper, Columbus Telegram / March 7, 2019

(TNS) — City of Columbus, Neb., and Platte County officials this week awarded contracts regarding their joint fiber optics system project expected to benefit the area's overall infrastructure.

During Monday’s Columbus City Council meeting, the body unanimously voted in favor of approving the low bid of $292,141.25 submitted by Norfolk, Neb.-based Bauer Underground Inc. to complete the fiber optics work. On Tuesday, the Platte County Board of Supervisors followed suit by awarding its portion of the bid to Bauer Underground, according to Platte County Clerk Diane Pinger.

Pinger said that the city and county both received six bids on Feb. 15, and have collaborated during the process moving forward. Both city and county officials have agreed to contribute up to $500,000 for the project that will be utilized by both parties’ industrial hubs.

Fiber optics are thin, flexible fibers of glass or other transparent solids that transmit light signals, largely used for telecommunications purposes, as previously reported by The Telegram. Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley said that the vast majority of the fiber optics are set to be installed underground and that the project is expected to start up later this year and be completed sometime next.

Phase one of the project will provide a ringed network of connection to the new E-911 Communications Center, Columbus Police Department, Columbus Fire Department, City Hall, Columbus Public Library, South Water Tower, South Water Plant, Central Maintenance and the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, according to information provided by City Engineer Rick Bogus.

The project, Bogus noted, would not have been able to progress without both city and county officials coming to a contract agreement on their respective ends.

Awarding the contract to Bauer Underground proved to be the smart financial move for both parties. Of the six bids submitted, Bauer provided by far the most financially viable option. The next closest bid came in from Minnesota-based MP Nexlevel LLC at $462,426.18, and the top-end bid was cast by Wisconsin-based Michels Power at $709,221.57.

Bogus said that additional expenses besides fiber optics work will get the city near that $500,000 maximum expenditure. This includes the purchase of 10G electronics, additional in-building connections and engineering and observation fees which will close in on that dollar amount.

RVW Inc, a local architecture, engineering and billing services company, noted that awarding bids to Bauer Underground was the best move.

“The bid submitted by Bauer Underground was a competitive bid,” Toby Goc of RVW wrote in a letter to the city. “The other bidders were substantially higher.

" ... Comparing Bauer Underground pricing to other projects, and due to the fact that Bauer Underground is currently working in the Columbus area, the difference to the other bidders is not a concern.”

City Administrator Tara Vasicek during the council’s meeting noted that the city for some time has had a goal of owning some of its own fiber networking.

“So now we’ve come together with the city and the county, and we both have $500,000 in our budgets for this year,” Vasicek said of covering project expenses. “ … We got a really good bid and we were actually able to add a couple of additional connections into the system over what we originally estimated could be included. … It’s going to be a really good thing for the city.”

©2019 the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.