The Fiber Optic Project: Grooming. Again.

The actual fiberoptic portion of this project was completed in mid-January. Later someone had regraded the ditch along the road to make it deeper and more sharply defined. I assumed it was the county.

But, as I was leaving for town on Presidents Day, I saw two trucks with equipment trailers at the “phone booth”. Like an old fire dog, I HAD to know what was going on!

The ditch the fiberoptic cable was in had been regraded. But I didn’t see it was any smoother driving across it!

I eased in among the trucks and trailers to see whose they were.

LCI and Lowery Contracting are the same outfit and the ones who did the project.

I was impressed with the quality of their equipment: The pickup is a Ford F550, a bear of a vehicle, and the semi tractor is a Kenworth TT02, generally used as a logging tractor. These people do buy good equipment! Now to find the stuff the trailers brought in.

Here is the one the pickup dragged up there: a Bobcat trackhoe. This guy is grooming driveways. And not happy; I assume this was supposed to have been a day off. I guess one of the seven property owners complained about the condition of their driveway. Or Fremont County is just harassing the contractor. Neither operator looked happy so I didn’t stop and ask!

These are grader “signs”. By grading back and forth over the same area, it both smooths and firms the road surface. This is taken just below the “curves”.

And here is the grader turning around. Notice how clean all the equipment is. I guess these two get to clean everything up when they get back to Salida!

I wonder if LCI made any money on this rush job. Maybe this extra work can be billed to CenturyLink. This so reminded me of a certain sewer inspector in Colorado Springs who would keep flunking jobs until he got a bottle of whiskey! Just saying . . .

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The Fiber Optic Project: Complete

The project was completed about mid-January. I have no way of knowing if it has been “lit” yet since our phone service has not been affected.

I am impressed with the professionalism the contractor showed. I hope they got adequately compensated for all the extra effort this took! Road Gulch Road is actually in better shape than before the project since some embankments were cut back, improving driver visibility on some curves, not to mention a wider north shoulder.

The entire project was almost 6 miles in length with an elevation drop of 600 feet.

This is the little building where all the phone lines in our neighborhood are terminated; I usually refer to it as the “phone booth”. I once asked a phone worker if I could look inside but he refused. 😦

The fiberoptic line is junctioned in the new terminal box in the right foreground. The county road the cable follows is in the middleground behind the far phone terminal box and the stop sign. The cable goes left along the other side of the road.

When they began, a horizontal boring machine inserted fiberoptic duct under the county road but not all the way to the phone booth. Another hole was later dug across the road and the duct cut off (It extended out into the pasture on the other side of the fence.). The cable was shoved into it after a backhoe trenched from the road to the new junction box then the fiberoptic cable was manually pulled through the duct under the road, laid in the trench, and buried.

I have some scenes from the project but not in any order due to my being “under the weather” this year.

For part of the project, they had to bring The Hammer up from the lower part of the project.

This was just before New Years. I asked if they were gonna finish the project before the end of the year and the “road guard” laughed they would be lucky to finish this part by then! It appeared they used The Hammer while still on the trailer so the pavement would not be damaged. It left its mark along the road.

This is where they stopped for 2011. This is not very far down the hill.

For 2012, they added this tool: a larger backhoe for where the dozers can’t go.

They did restore driveways that they plowed.

Those dozers must have been right against this fence as they passed by!

This is at the cattle guard. The dozers are done and are waiting for a ride home.

This is just above the end and I never did figure out why these were laying on the hill. They later disappeared and no junction box appeared here.

Now that it is done, driving this way is kinda boring again!

The Fiberoptic Project by Christmas — FAIL!

I went to the mailbox on Christmas Day and HAD to drive down Road Gulch to see how far they were since I could not see them from the mailbox. But they weren’t far down the gulch. About a half mile. With over a mile to go. Not even close to their goal.

This is near the first house on the north side of the road.

One thing I noticed was that the cable layer had no windows! That operator should be getting paid well! Note that there isn’t much cable on the spool either so this was a calculated stopping place.

Then I saw the project today on my trip to Salida to the doctor. Going down was not much different than Christmas Day! The big difference was they were burying duct instead of cable.

As we drove back up Road Gulch Road, I noticed the big backhoe (The Hammer) was gone. I figured they took it back before the end of the year to save rental money.

It had been parked near the curves since the project passed that point.

But when we turned the curve below where they were that morning, they hadn’t moved much! And, look, The Hammer! The semi had been there earlier and now we knew why. It appeared they had used The Hammer on the semi so it didn’t tear the paving up. There were tracks on the shoulder where the guy who kept waving me to go around while I was taking pictures, so it had been sitting there a while.

The cable layer had been refitted for laying fiberoptic duct.

TWO of them! But not all the duct is being furrowed in.

On each side of these driveways, a trench had been dug by the backhoe then the duct pulled into them plus some. Since there are no tracks in the driveway, they don’t have to worry about blocking it! Note the “Chinese finger traps” on the ends of the foreground ducts and the chain connected to them. This anchors the duct while it is pulled and fed out.

The duct can be laid under the phone and powerlines and connected in a box. I don’t know who gets to dig UNDER those lines. Later the actual cable will be pulled the entire length from here to the cattle guard using one of the ducts.

As I went around the trailer with The Hammer, I asked the road guard if they were gonna finish by New Years. He laughed and said, “This part, we hope!”. I had always assumed this valley was mostly stuff washed down from the mountains on each side. Obviously not if they have to use The Hammer to go 150′!

By modifying the contract for two ducts, the contract could be extended into next year. Or that is my guess. Lucky LCI.

“Our” Fiberoptic — Lower Half Buried

Not having gone down Road Gulch Road since school was out, I took a drive Sunday when I went to get the mail. I had heard from one of our postpersons that it wasn’t going well.

I got all the way to CO69 before I found the bulldozers.

From the looks of things, they had just gotten there Saturday. A bunch of cable was lying on the ground, ready to be shoved down the orange duct to the other side of the highway.

Or something. I am skeptical this is enough cable to come out the other end of the duct on the other side of the highway.

There is a lot of duct on the other side of the highway. This allows it to get to the other fiberoptic cable it connects to. I don’t think the roll on the ground will do it so they will have to splice another section in, presumably in a box.

My speculation they were gonna lay it in the road was wrong. They widened the shoulder in the “curves” enough for the dozers. But had to call for some serious muscle.

This is a backhoe with a hydraulic hammer. When the county widened this stretch of road years ago, they didn’t use one of these. Nor did they make room for bulldozers! Their purpose was smoothing the curves and widening the road for two vehicles.

Most of the way the burial furrow looked like this.

Nice and neat looking. But through the curves, it was more of a “git ‘er done” appearance. Two major cliffs had to be cut back, creating lots of rock and boulders.

The rocks were pushed back to make room for the dozer tracks.

At the cattle guard, they lay the cable along the ground.

Now they have started from the top again for the second portion of the project. The dozers are at the end of our street now.

“Our” Fiberoptic Cable

OK. We have to share it with a few hundred other people! Lol.

A few years ago, our telephone company, CenturyLink, brought fiber optic cable to the end of Road Gulch Road along CO69. Now they wanna connect us to that fiber optic cable. Presently we are connected by a copper, multiple conductor cable. We have no idea what this augers for us but we do hope it improves our phone service. And maybe encourages cell service providers to install towers.

I had talked to one of the team doing this for CenturyLink, a contractor from Salida. He was very aggravated they are demanding that this company get ‘er done by Christmas when they had months (or years) to do this. In much better weather.

First they tried to dig a hole with a backhoe and got about a foot down before it wouldn’t go any deeper into the frozen ground. Then the company sent them back with a horizontal borer to cross under the roads, CO28 and CO69. Mission accomplished at each end. But those pulled the familiar orange fiberoptic duct under them.

But the team is now putting the plastic fiberoptic cable directly into the ground! Usually we see these projects with the burial of orange duct with the fiber optic cable itself pulled through the duct later. This method also allows several cables be pulled through the same duct.

Anyway, this project is installing one cable by direct burial.

First they had to break through the frost line the backhoe failed to penetrate. This is the machine they are using. This method of breaking the furrow makes the burial machine work smoother, also.

This thing goes ahead and breaks up the ground ahead cutting a furrow. It left big chunks of frozen soil behind. Note how close it is to the rock wall; the road is even closer to the wall further down the road; there the operator actually plowed the road

Then the rest of the team followed doing their things.

The front thing with the roll of dark “wire” is the cable burier. Behind it is a backhoe doing something, I think using the back of the bucket to tamp the furrow. Then the grader was reshaping the ditch so it looked like they had never been there. Lol.

The fun thing to me was the cable burying machine. Here is a movie of it in action. I suggest you click the fullscreen button to see the action better.

This was cool! The guy walking along beside the plow is the guy I talked to and turns out to be the project supervisor! He is making sure the insertion is going well since there are many things that can damage the cable.

The orange ribbon is a warning tape that is buried a foot or so below the surface to warn backhoe operators they are about to eat a fiber optic cable! Details here (pdf).

They are moving right along and should make their deadline. But they started from the cattle guard on public (BLM) land; once they get to the highway, they will have to deal with the private property east of the part they are doing. That part of the project is along the paved part of the road with narrow rights of way.

I wish them luck.