Sen. Moran, Rep. Marshall seek answers for Hillsboro on high-speed broadband service

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 11:06 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIBW) - Senator Moran and Representative Marshall are asking for answers from the Army Corps on behalf of the City of Hillsboro on high-speed broadband service to the community.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and U.S. Representative Roger Marshall say they are looking for answers from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works about a project that would bring high-speed broadband service to the Hillsboro community. They say the community has been negatively impacted by the Army Corps of Engineers’ non-recreational outgrant police.

Senator Moran says the City of Hillsboro recently worked with TCT, a Council Grove-based telecommunications company, to bring a fiber optic project routing the cable across Army Corps land at Marion Lake which required permission from the Corps. However, he says, TCT recently had to reroute the cable to avoid Army Corps owned land because of requirements within the outgrant policy that would have made significant delays and added expenses to the critical project.

“Social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused increased reliance on distance healthcare, learning, and employment, including in rural communities,” wrote Sen. Moran and Rep. Marshall. “Projects to increase availability and quality of broadband for rural areas across the country are critical to keep these populations connected and economically viable.”

Sen. Moran and Rep. Marshall say they asked the following questions to clarify the Corps’ current policy:

  1. What considerations were taken when the Army Corps decides there is a “viable alternative” to a project? Is an increased cost to the applicant considered? If not, they ask for an explanation.
  2. Are there certain projects, including those that have economic development impacts for surrounding communities, that receive special treatment in the considerations? If not, they ask for an explanation.
  3. In deciding how a project would have a “direct benefit to the government,” how does the Army Corps consider and make such requests of the applicant?
  4. When deciding the impact and necessity of environmental assessments to be made by an applicant, is the size and scope of the project considered? Are smaller projects with less potential for an environmental impact made to complete a less intensive environmental assessment?
  5. The Kansas officials as for a general and complete timeline of the Army Corps’ application process for a non-recreational outgrant application from when it first has contact with an applicant to the final approval or denial with time estimates.

To read the full letter, visit Senator Moran’s website.

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