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Bozeman Fiber is on track to start setting up an expansive network in town this spring.

The nonprofit expects to have its financing in the bank soon, CEO Greg Metzger said, and is making headway on an implementation plan to lay out where it want to place fiber optic cables.

Metzger said expects the nonprofit to have the implementation plan complete spring.

“By the time we hit the first part of March, I think everything is going to be pretty lined out, and then the only thing to impede progress is when does spring start?” Metzger said this week.

In order to prepare for construction, Bozeman Fiber and the city are working together to hire a consultant to review permits and manage the engineering, coordinating with other utilities and oversight of construction.

Interim Public Works Director Scott Shirley said the workload that would be required from city staff would be “pretty dramatic.”

“We want to make sure that we protect our underground utilities …. We just need to make sure that they don’t hit anything,” Shirley said. “We make sure that they locate all of our sewer lines of all of our water lines, and obviously, they have to locate any other like electric lines and such.”

Bozeman Fiber will reimburse the city for the consultant costs, Shirley said. City staff is still expected to have some work associated with the project, like getting a consultant up to speed, but Shirley said he expects the consultant will handle 95% of the work.

Bozeman Fiber was formed in 2015 and has worked closely with city staff and the county. Earlier this year, county commissioners approved $65 million in bonds for Bozeman Fiber. The county is acting as the conduit for the bonds and is not using taxpayer money for the project.

Bozeman Fiber Board Chairman Chris Naumann said the collaboration between the nonprofit and local governments is crucial. The agreement that Bozeman Fiber will pay for the work the city will have to do for their project is a continuation of that partnership, Neumann said.

“The city has long supported us and we needed in turn to support the city in the construction and permitting and inspection of this new network,” Naumann said.

Metzger expects the work that will begin first is the aerial work in the area of town with overhead utilities, which is generally the older, eastern side of Bozeman. The underground work is more challenging, Metzger said, partially because it has to wait until the ground is thawed from winter.

Bozeman Fiber also plans to coordinate with the city to stay away from areas where city crews will be doing construction to avoid adding to congestion.

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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