SEDRO-WOOLLEY — The city of Sedro-Woolley approved Wednesday an agreement with the Port of Skagit to allow the port to extend its planned countywide fiber optic network into the city.

Building a countywide fiber network has been a long-term goal of the port because reliable internet access supports business development.

“This project creates connectivity for the Port of Skagit and City of Sedro-Woolley and brings added telecommunications infrastructure to our community. This added fiber capacity will accommodate sustained long term growth into the future,” the project partners, including the Skagit Public Utility District, wrote in an application for funding.

Port of Skagit Broadband Manager Andrew Entrikin said after receiving funding in 2017, 2018 and 2019 from Skagit County, two segments between the La Conner Marina and Skagit Regional Airport have been built, a contractor is ready to proceed on a segment from Interstate 5 to Sedro-Woolley, and funding is in hand for a segment later between Hamilton and Concrete.

Construction of the I-5 to Sedro-Woolley portion is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“This segment will provide improved access to a fiber optic network addressing digital divide issues in the county, enhancing economic development and providing improved municipal, public health and safety, educational services and transportation,” the project document states.

Sedro-Woolley officials said during an Aug. 12 meeting that building the fiber backbone out to Sedro-Woolley will benefit the economy in the city and beyond.

“This will also open up the door for fiber to move east of us, so the smaller towns, Lyman, Hamilton and Concrete, would also be able to have fiber optics in their communities,” Sedro-Woolley Mayor Julia Johnson said.

The city has long supported the plan to bring fiber to Skagit County, including as a party to the Skagit County Fiber Optic Network Strategic Plan and in joining the port and Skagit Public Utility District in seeking funding to extend the fiber backbone east of I-5.

The city will remain involved in decisions about design, construction and operation of the local segment of the fiber backbone and on additions of local fiber elements under the interlocal agreement passed Wednesday.

“The Port and the City shall also work together on planning, design, and construction of future fiber optic network elements including a co-location facility to enable telecommunications providers to serve areas in the town from the countywide fiber optic backbone, as well as a fiber optic distribution system to serve the town,” the agreement states.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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