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Project Profile: Big Cottonwood Canyon Fiber Optic Deployment

Big Cottonwood Canyon Fiber Optic Deployment

Source: America's Transportation Awards


Salt Lake County, Utah

Project Sponsor / Borrower

Utah Department of Transportation

Program Areas

Value Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Joint Development

Right-of-Way Use Agreement




SR-190, which runs through Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County, Utah, provides access to world-class skiing, hiking, and outdoor activities. This area hosts millions of visitors every year, but lacked reliable, high-speed communication due to steep canyon walls, limited right-of-way, and environmental sensitivity. The lack of high-speed communication delayed emergency response, hindered active traffic management, and limited businesses and government agencies operating in the canyon. This exacerbated safety and traffic operations issues throughout the canyon.

In the summer of 2013, the Utah Department of Transportation partnered with the wireless infrastructure provider Crown Castle International, the largest provider of shared communications infrastructure in the U.S, to install almost 13 miles of fiber-optic cables, poles, and other facilities in the canyon. The installation included a Distributed Antenna System using 21 antenna poles and a partnership with Verizon to provide a full-range of wireless services including enhancements for emergency services, high-speed data transmission, and 4G wireless carrier services. UDOT was also able to use the fiber backbone to supply connectivity to new ITS devices for active traffic management, improving traffic operations in the region.

The land use agreement project is a joint development partnership between Crown Castle International and UDOT. Crown Castle funded installation of the power, conduit and fiber facilities in exchange for the right to provide for-fee wireless service throughout the canyon. Currently, Crown Castle leases the services to Verizon, allowing the carrier to provide cell phone and data service to their customers in the area. UDOT contributed right-of-way and assisted with permitting in exchange for the ability to access the fiber to expand its ITS network. The agreement between UDOT and Crown Castle covers 30 years, with an option to renew for 10 additional years. The intent of the joint development arrangement is to provide equal benefits to both UDOT and Crown Castle International.


$6.3 million

Funding Sources

Crown Castle International - $4 million

Utah Department of Transportation - $2.3 million

Project Delivery / Contract Method

Telecommunications Facility Exchange Agreement

Private Partner

Crown Castle International

Project Advisors / Consultants

Site Construction/Installation - Horrocks Engineers



Duration / Status

Construction began in March 2013

Substantial completion occurred in August 2013

Financial Status


  • With its agreement with Crown Castle, UDOT was able to increase its statewide fiber network by almost 13 miles. Now, new ITS equip allows UDOT to monitor weather, roadway, and traffic conditions within Big Cottonwood Canyon at virtually no incremental cost to Utah's taxpayers. The agreement between UDOT and Crown Castle, calculated the trade value for the dark fiber (unused fiber available for use by UDOT), conduit, and poles to be about $2 million - a sum sufficient to nearly offset UDOT's contribution to the project.
Related Links / Articles

Broadband USA Presentation

America's Transportation Awards

Local News Article

Horrocks Engineers

Town of Alta Town Meeting Minutes

UDOT Annual Efficiency Report


Lynne Yocom
UDOT Fiber Optics Manager
Tel: (801) 514-4565

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