Latest News, Uncategorized, WVPA Sharing

Capito urges installation of broadband under highway


The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Can two highways be built along the same route at the same time?

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said it is physically possible — if one of the highways happens to be a broadband super highway made of fiber optic cable that can be placed right underneath the actual highway being paved with asphalt.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito speaks at the I-81 Corridor Coalition on Monday in Martinsburg.
(Photo by Ron Agnir)

“I’ve written to President (Donald) Trump several times emphasizing that we need to have broadband development,” said Capito, keynote speaker at the annual I-81 Corridor Coalition meeting held in Martinsburg on Monday morning. “What a better way to do it, if you’re digging out, building a new road, or modernizing a new road, or laying a pipeline. Why not lay out the fiber optic cable at the same time?”

Improving broadband accessibility in West Virginia has been one of Capito’s top priorities since she was sworn into the U.S. Senate in 2015. As many as 74 percent of residents in the Mountain State lack proper access to broadband services that meet Federal Communications Commission benchmarks

A federal bill titled “Dig Once” is currently circulating in Congress, Capito said.

“The bill basically says for ease of permitting and for ease of moving forward infrastructure development in the broadband area, let’s make it easy and do a ‘dig once’ provision,” Capito said. “So, if you are digging for something, you can permit your broadband right in there at the same time. There’s got to be a way that you can do this concurrently, rather than consecutively.”

Capito said she supports President Trump’s proposal to wed public and private dollars to restore the nation’s infrastructure. However, she acknowledged there’s pockets in the country where such pairing is not likely to happen.

“Let’s face it, there are parts of this country that are not going to attract private investment — we don’t have the payback, or the population to sustain a big private investment,” Capito said. “My concern is that rural America — West Virginia and rural parts of the I-81 rural corridor — are going to be left out of this public-private coalition, simply because we don’t have the driving forces that are actually going to bring about that payback.”

Capito also noted increased traffic volume on I-81 has made it a more challenging road to navigate.

“Traveling on I-81 is difficult in an automobile, because of the truck traffic, the speed and because of the volume of trucks and cards on the road,” Capito said.

Capito also touched on the country’s opioid epidemic and its impact on West Virginia and specifically the Eastern Panhandle.

“We see loss of life too much in this area, and all across the county,”Capito said. “Sometimes I think we are going to lose an entire generation. It’s such a huge problem — you need to have a collective achievement effort to solve this thing.”

Capito said treatment services need to be increased in the Eastern Panhandle.

“We know that we do not have adequate treatment,” Capito said. “The Berkeley County Council is trying to figure out a way to address that issue here in the Panhandle.”

The opioid addiction crisis has an interstate transportation component to it, Capito said.

“We’re working on tightening the borders, so the flow of drugs ceases, or at least slowed,” Capito said. “It’s got to get here somehow, and it’s coming on our roads, once it gets into this country.”

See more from The Journal

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address