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Arizona laying conduit along highways to connect rural areas

October 15, 2021 GMT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona is launching a project to use interstate highways in the state to help provide broadband internet access to rural areas.

The state Department of Transportation this week began laying fiber-optic conduit along southbound Interstate 17 in northern Arizona as part of a project with the Arizona Commerce Authority to provide more rural communities with affordable access to high-speed internet service.

ADOT said there will be right-lane restrictions as crews lay the conduit in 3-mile (4,8-kilometer) sections between milepost 340 in Flagstaff and milepost 296 just south of the junction with State Route 179 to Sedona.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Regina Cobb, a Republican, to authorize the project was approved by the Legislature last spring and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey.

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According to ADOT, the installation of the fiber-optic conduit along rights-of-way of interstate highways also will be used for technology such as overhead message boards, traffic cameras, weather stations and wrong-way driving detection equipment.

“ The infrastructure also will help lay the groundwork for emerging technology like connected and automated vehicles,” ADOT said in a statement.

The department said there is already a fiber-optic conduit along freeways in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, as well as a stretch of Interstate 10 near Eloy for the dust detection and warning system.