October Newsline: New England Gets Storm Sewer Complaints; Texas Maps Broadband; Trench Violations Mean Penalties

October 2009 Vol. 64 No. 10

Texas to map broadband availability, prioritize federal stimulus funding
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced a partnership between the Texas Department of Agriculture and Connected Nation, a national nonprofit, to create a broadband initiative called Connected Texas and to develop a detailed broadband inventory map to better position Texas for competitive funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The map, which will feature the information of participating broadband providers large and small, is expected to serve as a key asset for the state as it prepares for federal stimulus funding to support broadband investment.

The Texas broadband map, which will be a function of Connected Texas, will feature a collaborative, public-private approach to broadband mapping. The map will illustrate broadband service availability at the street level, based on information from all types of providers across Texas, including cable, telephone, wireless Internet service providers, rural cooperatives and municipalities. Most importantly, the broadband map will illustrate the service gaps that remain in rural and other remote locations.

The Texas map will be developed under the leadership of the Texas Department of Agriculture. Through a rigorous system of broadband data collection, GIS analysis, and data verification, Connected Texas’s mapping project will determine where broadband service is currently available to Texas households statewide and, more importantly, the gaps in coverage where households are not served by any broadband provider.

Trench violations result in penalties
The Pipe Line Contractors Association reported that a Missouri based contractor working at a job site in Fort Smith, AR, has been assessed with one willful and nine serious violations of worker safety regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA said the will citation was issued for failing to establish a protective system, such as sloping or benching of the soil or a shoring method to prevent soil collapse, to guard against cave-ins of a seven-foot trench that was not adequately sloped. The agency said five workers were seen in the trench working.

The nine serious violations included failing to provide trench hazard training and failing to ensure that workers had appropriate access to and from trenches.

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