HD3 - Dig Once Feasibility Study (HJR 77, 2018)

Executive Summary:

In 2018, the Virginia General Assembly requested, through HJ77, that the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) study the feasibility of a statewide, blanket dig once policy, including installation of conduits with bridge and tunnel construction projects, for all Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) districts. Based on HJ77 criteria, to guide the study, a dig once policy is defined as, “A policy requiring VDOT to install and maintain conduit in all VDOT-maintained Rights of Way (ROW), including bridges and tunnels, when construction is being performed in that ROW."

According to stakeholders, three primary challenges to accessing VDOT ROW to install broadband infrastructure exist:

• accessing complex intersections, bridges, and tunnels
• perceived policy fragmentation across VDOT’s nine districts
• costs associated with ROW access

Based on the criteria established in HJ77, findings from the Dig Once Feasibility Study include:

• A blanket dig once policy, including the installation of conduits with bridge and tunnel construction projects, for all VDOT districts - as defined above - does not appear to be feasible.

• While a dig once policy, as defined above, may not be feasible, thematic issues did emerge that should be given more attention:

o access to bridges and tunnels
o perceived policy fragmentation across all VDOT districts

CIT recommends that further analysis, coordination, and planning focus on streamlining the permitting process and associated costs. This will help make installing and enhancing broadband infrastructure cheaper, easier, and faster throughout the Commonwealth.