Alliant Energy installing fiber optic cable under Wisconsin River

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Alliant Energy is conducting a project to drill 25 feet under the Wisconsin River and install fiber optic cable which will run through Prairie du Chien and beyond. Work continues at the Bridgeport Landing, above. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)

Overall project 

will continue through 

Prairie du Chien

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Anyone driving over the Highway 18 Bridge above the Wisconsin River between the town of Bridgeport and Grant County in recent weeks would have seen equipment and work being done at the Bridgeport Landing, Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.

Alliant Energy has been working day and night since Sept. 21 at the location to drill a hole and install fiber optic cable 25 feet under the Wisconsin River bed.

Project Manager Ed Gilkes of Alliant Energy said the project is part of a much larger project that will create a fiber optic cable route from Alliant’s facilities in Madison, to Janesville, Beloit, Monroe, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Prairie du Chien, Mineral Point and back to Madison. The route will connect numerous Alliant operation centers and facilities along the way. 

Gilkes is the project manager for the entire project and said the project began with the concept and design stages a few years ago.

The main contractor at the Bridgeport Landing is KS Energy Services, which has its main office in New Berlin, Wis., but which also has offices in Madison, Dubuque and several other locations.

“We’re hoping to finish up this week,” said Gilkes about the work at the Bridgeport Landing. “We hit a lot of rock on the Wisconsin side of the river which slowed the project up a bit.”

Gilkes said the fiber optic route will be Alliant’s private network. He said the network will be automated to allow Alliant to respond a lot quicker to power outages and also to respond remotely (without sending anyone) to a location in certain cases.

Gilkes said Alliant is also exploring the option of working with telecommunication companies in the future regarding the new high-speed, fiber optic network, but there has been nothing set up yet. “We would like to see what kind of market there is,” he said, in noting that there is a possibility of bringing high-speed, broadband internet to rural areas.

By installing fiber optic cable under the Wisconsin River, Gilkes said it protects the visual aspect of the scenic river. Also, there are no power lines to be brought down by high winds or ice storms.

Gilkes said the project will continue along Highway 18 and into Prairie du Chien. The work in Prairie du Chien is expected to begin in late October or early November.

The line will run through Prairie du Chien and will connect with the operation center on E. Campion Boulevard, the Hillside substation near the operation center, a substation near E. LaPointe Road and the Brisbois substation on N. Marquette Road near Design Homes.

Alliant Energy will be notifying customers in Prairie du Chien about the project.   

Directional drilling crews from KS Energy Services will be placing conduit underground in the road right-of-way. In most instances, work will take place between the street and sidewalk. The project is expected to take two to four weeks. Electric service and other utilities along the route will not be affected. 

Work will take place in an area of State Highway 18 from Fennimore to Vineyard Road, and along Sand Burr Lane, East Campion Boulevard, South 15th Street, Fremont Street, South Buchanan Street, Iowa Street, LaPointe Street, North Marquette Road and Ohio Street.

After the conduit has been installed, a restoration crew will return the construction areas to their original condition as soon as possible. 

If anyone has any concerns or questions, they can call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT.

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