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 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 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.