Drivers may now be able to get cellphone service in a previously dead part of Clear Creek Canyon, thanks to a deal allowing the Colorado Department of Transportation to tap into a private-sector fiber optic network.
The agreement will provide cell and radio service on Highway 6 from Golden to Interstate 70 and along Highway 119 near Black Hawk.
"Providing cellphone coverage into this area enhances safety by eliminating a historic blind spot for CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol and other emergency service providers who didn't, until now, even have radio coverage," CDOT regional director Tony DeVito stated in a release from the transportation agency. "In addition, this partnership is saving the state about $7 million, since that's how much it would have cost CDOT to build a similar system along both corridors, obtain power for the equipment and maintain the system."
The system has the capacity to provide service for all cellphone providers, but coverage may not be available through all wireless carriers in the area due to existing lease agreements, according to the statement.
CDOT will also be able to install additional services using the fiber optic line, including electronic message signs, which provide real-time traffic updates to drivers, a digital radio system allowing for two-way radio communication for emergency services and a road and weather information gathering system supplying maintenance teams with information about road surfaces during poor weather.
The agreement grants ownership of the fiber to CDOT, as well as power for the equipment and shared space on 32 poles along the line to install infrastructure.
In return, CDOT is providing the private owner, a company called Crown Castle International Corporation, access to right-of-way for the placement of a shared fiber optic line. Crown Castle agreed to maintain the fiber line for 20 years, an aspect of the deal that is renewable, according to the statement.