U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
August 20, 2013
I am writing to State transportation leaders today to encourage you to take an active role in accommodating broadband infrastructure on highway rights-of-way. This is something the transportation community can do that will increase the Nation's global competitiveness in the 21st century and enhance the performance of our highway system.
Under a Presidential Executive Order (Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is working with other Federal Agencies to identify ways to expand access to broadband services, particularly in underserved areas. Providing access to high-speed Internet throughout the country benefits America as a whole because it offers businesses and institutions the capabilities they need to expand their services while providing households virtual access to education, training, and other aspects of the information superhighway. Connectivity along our roadways will support State and local Intelligent Transportation System initiatives to improve our ability to share information on traffic and roadway conditions, which will increase the safety and security of our roads.
As you know, we must plan carefully to accommodate utilities such as broadband in highway rights-of-way using methods that ensure safe and efficient highway operations. Over the past year, we have worked with State transportation officials and local entities to identify successful practices to accommodate broadband infrastructure within the highway rights-of-way. We have included these successful practices on the FHWA Web site at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/otps/exeorder.cfm.
In addition, we used these practices to develop the enclosed list of opportunities for States to consider when accommodating the deployment of broadband infrastructure in highway rights-of-way. I strongly encourage you to consider these opportunities when your agency updates policies, procedures, and plans, and as it pursues highway projects in areas that would benefit from the deployment of broadband infrastructure.
I look forward to working with you to expand the availability of broadband infrastructure on highway rights-of-way. Our Division Office is available to answer any questions you or your staff may have on accommodating or encouraging the deployment of broadband facilities in your highway rights-of-way.
If I can provide further information or assistance, please feel free to call me.
Victor M. Mendez
Considerations for States with an Interest in Advancing the Deployment
of Broadband in Highway and Public Rights-of-Way (ROW)
Develop a statewide policy on broadband with input from stakeholders.
Develop a statewide plan to facilitate the provision of broadband services to all citizens in the State by identifying corridors where broadband infrastructure is most needed.
If applicable, review, update, and/or modify State utility accommodation policies.
If applicable review and propose modifications to State legislation to facilitate accommodating broadband facilities in highway and public ROW.
If applicable, publish broadband plans and/or State utility accommodation policies on the State Web site and provide links to these materials.
Include broadband stakeholders and service providers in the transportation planning and project development process.
If applicable, coordinate transportation and highway construction plans with other statewide telecommunication plans, such as Statewide Interoperability Communication Plans, Fusion Center Plans, and State Next Generation 911 plans.
Make information on the location of conduits, fiber lines and planned highway projects available electronically.
Consider new technology and construction practices, such as micro-trenching and horizontal directional drilling that would allow for the safe and efficient accommodation of broadband infrastructure in the public ROW.
Coordinate with utilities to minimize the number and scale of repeated excavations that involve the installation of broadband in the public ROW.
Consider developing or updating a State DOTs Asset Management System to collect pertinent broadband data, such as size, type, location of spare ducts, and live and dark fibers.
When updating environmental Programmatic Agreements, consider whether incorporating broadband would be useful.