Whether a doctor needs to access a remote MRI file, a 911 operator is routing a backup fire truck, or two distant middle school classes are discussing the world economic climate, high-speed, instantaneous access to data and resources is often taken for granted until the lack thereof touches our lives. In Central Maryland, a nine-jurisdiction consortium worked together to develop and implement a $72 million, 800-mile network to connect more than 700 institutional and community facilities. KCI provided design engineering and construction services for the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN), the central portion of the statewide One Maryland Broadband Network.
KCI teams worked in several counties as well as Baltimore City. The majority of ICBN was new conduit and fiber construction, while Baltimore City integrated the network utilizing existing underground pathways. The municipality was the only jurisdiction that allowed a single company to perform both design and construction on the same projects, capitalizing on KCI’s extensive knowledge of their existing network and infrastructure in navigating the maze of conduits beneath city streets. Critical to the team’s success was the unusual synergy achieved between design and construction personnel, who worked in harmony on construction requirements, details and methodology.
The firm also spearheaded efforts to analyze alternative alignments and installation strategies as well as aerial and underground installation costs, saving the consortium significant construction dollars. Although usually the more expensive option, underground installation using directional bore machines can be more cost effective than aerial connections when alignments follow congested utility poles that would have to be replaced or upgraded to accommodate the new fiber line.
In addition to monitoring costs and milestone expenditures, maintaining the project schedule was a critical component to comply with grant requirements. The entire funding allotment had to be expended by specified milestone dates. KCI and our teaming partners quickly expanded our staff and purchased necessary equipment to keep the ICBN on track, while supporting the program’s stimulus-related economic growth goals. The project met all of the financial, construction and engineering goals set by the state and the granting agency, and consortium members are already in the process of building upon the backbone network to connect more sites.