PERRYVILLE - Construction is expected to start next summer on a project to run AT&T fiber optic cables under the Susquehanna River.
Ben Fabina, design engineer with KCI Technologies, gave a presentation to Perryville's mayor and commissioners to explain how the project from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., would affect the town and where the town's help is needed.
"Because the work is going across town property, you have a legal agreement," Fabina said at the Tuesday night work session.
In the event that AT&T abandons the conduits, the town takes ownership. Diana Battaglia, town planner, said there has been no discussion yet of how Perryville would use that conduit, were it to become available.
Fabina explained that the telecommunications company currently leases fiber optic cable from Comcast. That line travels the length of the Hatem Bridge. This proposed project would have AT&T own its own cable, which would run about 50 feet under the mud in the Susquehanna River.
"We need to go underground to fix this," Fabina said.
The original communications cables were laid during World War II. In 1985, those cables were replaced with cables that ran across the Amtrak bridge.
"That cable failed in 2012," he noted, pointing to fiber degradation. "Since then we have leased fibers from Comcast on the Hatem."
Fabina said this new conduit path would allow for better access for future maintenance needs.
"It would have minimal environmental and social impact," he said.
However, staging and construction could have some effects.
"The only physical ground disturbance is a 20-by-10-foot hole," he said, adding that the drill for the project is not much bigger than a conference table.
The Atlas 840 - a 1.2 million pound drilling rig - would punch down and then across, going under Garrett Island en route to Havre de Grace. Fabina said the construction site would be in the vicinity of Ice House Park. The air compressors would make more noise than the drill, he added.
"The sound may echo under the bridge," Fabina said.
Mayor Jim Eberhardt figured in that area it may not even be noticed.
"The Hatem Bridge noise is probably worse," Eberhardt said.
Getting the equipment and the cable into Perryville will also create headaches.
Commissioner Pete Reich want to know route will be used to bring in the pipes and Commissioner Michelle Linkey asked how many trucks would make trips into town. The most likely route is on Otsego Street, Fabina said.
Drilling would be conducted only from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. but the cable pulling operation would go round the clock.
Eberhardt was disappointed that the high-speed internet service would go through Perryville without the town getting any benefit.
"It's an awful lot like the (natural) gas lines. The greatest line goes through town and Perryville can't tap into it," the mayor said.
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