Washington State Public Works Board has approved $44.6 million in new grants for broadband expansion

By MARK HARMSWORTH  | 
Dec 28, 2021
BLOG

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for continued investment in wireless and wired infrastructure, particularly in rural areas that have not seen the connectivity and speed availability that more urban areas have enjoyed.

At their December 3 meeting, the Washington State Public Works Board approved over $44.6 million in conditional grants for 15 broadband construction projects in unserved and underserved communities across the state.

Projects awarded conditional funding at the Dec. 3 board meeting are:

  • Clallam County – Clallam County Broadband Project, $4,525,174
  • Jefferson County PUD – Discovery Bay East Fiber Project, $1,096,046
  • Kittitas County – Kittitas County Thorp and Edgemont FTTx Project, $3,338,946
  • Lewis County PUD
    • Connecting Mineral, Elbe and Ashford communities, $4,733,011
    • Connecting the Greater Vader Community, $4,726,647
  • Lincoln County – Connecting Lincoln County, $4,162,072
  • Pacific County PUD – Pacific County Broadband Build Bay City to Nemah, $5 million
  • Port of Clarkston
    • Census Tract 9604 FTTH Broadband Project, $1,944,381
    • Grantham Elementary Service Area FTTH Broadband Project, $1,775,282
  • Port of Columbia – Touchet Valley Broadband, $1,165,000
  • Port of Coupeville – Central Whidbey FTTx, $4,842,933
  • Port of Garfield, Northeast Garfield County, Rural FTTH Project, $3,827,365
  • Port of Skagit – Fir Island FTTx, $2,152,791
  • Town of Skykomish – Skykomish broadband, $598,023
  • Town of Washtucna – Fiber to the premise, $788,946

Targeted expansion of broadband in rural areas closes the digital divide and creates new jobs.

The Washington Policy Center has joined a coalition of other pubic public groups in publishing principals for closing the digital divide when making investments in infrastructure.

These principals include,

  • Be technology neutral
  • Working with the federal government on broadband mapping
  • Reducing or eliminating state right of way fees and make state infrastructure available to speed up deployment
  • Reducing the cost and application times for 5G deployment
  • Utilizing electric co-ops infrastructure
  • Pass ‘dig once’ and ‘one-touch make ready’ policies
  • Streamline existing grant programs

Continued investment in wireless infrastructure and incentives for providers is required to expand connectivity to all Washington residents and keep Washington working.

Sign up for the WPC Newsletter