Local News

News release: Kaibab National Forest Considers New Alignment for Fiber Optic Line to Support Grand Canyon Schools

April 27, 2021

 The Kaibab National Forest (KNF) is considering authorization of a new fiber optic line. The Grand Canyon Unified School District and the Town of Tusayan obtained grant funds for the new fiber optic cable to provide high speed internet service to the school at the Grand Canyon, which is needed to deliver bandwidth to students whose access to high-speed internet lags badly behind other Arizona schools. Commnet Wireless would build the fiber system.

The southern terminus of the fiber optic line would be located at an existing Commnet facility near Airport Road and Interstate 40 in Williams, follow an Arizona Public Service (APS) utility easement to Arizona State Route 64 (SR 64), and extend north primarily along the west side of the Arizona Department of Transportation right of way for SR 64 to the vicinity of the Tusayan Airport, for a total of 53.8 miles. A total of 19.1 miles of line would be located on KNF lands, with 7.8 miles on the Williams Ranger District and 11.3 miles on the Tusayan Ranger District. The remainder of the line would be on state and private lands.

The KNF approved a different alignment for this fiber optic line in 2020. The former alignment, which would have totaled approximately 68 miles, would have generally followed the Grand Canyon Railway. The proponents requested the KNF analyze this new alignment instead of the alignment approved in 2020 because of logistical and cost considerations.

Additional information about the project, including a map, can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59609.

Deputy District Ranger Andy Kelher invites public comment about the proposed fiber optic line, and is considering use of this categorical exclusion to authorize the project on the national forest: Additional construction or reconstruction of existing telephone or utility lines in a designated corridor (36 CFR 220.6(e)(2)). If interested, please submit your written comments by May 11, 2021, by email to comments-southwestern-kaibab@usda.gov, mail to 800 South 6th Street, Williams, AZ 86046, or fax to 928-635-8208. For questions, contact Andy Kelher at andrew.kelher@usda.gov or 928-635-8230.