Could TIGER construction also bring better internet service?
At its April board meeting, the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce discussed finding ways for other infrastructure to piggyback on upcoming construction funded by the $10.3 million TIGER grant.
“Maybe this is the time to shoot for the moon,” said Board Chair David O’Connor, spurring a conversation about coordinating with the Big Sky Water and Sewer District and local telecommunications providers so any infrastructure projects tied to local roadways can be done at the same time.
“The trench is open,” commented Board Member Britt Ide, indicating the upcoming construction provides a cost-savings opportunity to potentially install fiber optic lines, sewer pipe and other infrastructure.
“A lot of the pushback to those types of improvements are costs,” some associated with tearing up asphalt and concrete, said O’Connor. “We can take all that away or a good chunk of it.”
Looking down the road, Chamber CEO Candace Carr Strauss said the infrastructure conversation is well-timed because now, following the TIGER grant award, the community should be thinking about, “What is the next big thing?”
Board Member Kevin Germain spoke up for better internet service.
“If we want to be a world-class community, we’ve got to have great broadband,” said Germain, imagining a community-wide upgrade. “When you turn the corner (off of Highway 191) you’ve got Big Sky Wi-Fi.”
Board Member Sarah Phelps chimed in, adding, “If we’re going to go broadband, we need to talk cell service.”
Discussion led Germain to make a motion to form a telecommunications taskforce with the goal of possibly making improved internet and cell service “the next big thing” when it comes to developing local infrastructure.