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Monday, September 16, 2019

IT finds alternative networking path due to US-36 highway collapse

IT finds alternative networking path due to US-36 highway collapse

It was a strange day on Friday, July 12, when cracks started to form on US-36 and the ground underneath started to slide away and collapse. However, it wasn’t just motorists who were concerned. Senior Telecommunications Administrator Dan Hord was worried about what was 300 feet north and 15 feet below the bridge: city networking fiber.

“There was no immediate risk to our conduit, however, CDOT engineers planned to do some major excavation to check how structurally sound the rest of the bridge was, which could have caused our conduit and fiber to be damaged,” said Hord.

The city’s data connection between all 26 city facilities with staff, is shaped mostly as a ring with data redirected along this path as needed without users noticing an interruption. However, if CDOT damaged the fiber connection running under US-36, the Northwest Water Treatment Facility, West View Recreation Center, Walnut Creek Golf Course and Countryside Recreation Center would all have been cut off since part of that “fiber ring” is in a single conduit to those facilities.

“To mitigate the risk to those locations, and reduce potential future outages, we contacted our fiber contractor, Advanced Fiber Response [AFR], to see what we could do,” said Hord.

The city decided to extend a fiber connection about 3,500 feet south from the Northwest Water Treatment Facility to a connection at Church Ranch Road. This would create a new fiber pathway to those northern city facilities. The fiber would be installed in a new conduit and be in CDOT’s right of way.

After securing a permit from CDOT and coordinating with AFR to install the fiber, construction started the week of August 5 and wrapped up on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

“CDOT was very cooperative and city staff helped make it a smooth project,” said Hord. “[Network Engineer] Jeff Butler was instrumental to this project as he configured network devices and rerouted data traffic.”

As the US-36 rebuild project begins, the city is no longer worried about potential network service interruptions as CDOT starts digging. Thanks to Hord and IT staff, the alternative networking path is in place to ensure network integrity and connectivity.

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