Emphasizing the importance of Internet access for Arizona residents living in some of the most remote parts of the state, Governor Doug Ducey is calling for tripling the state’s investment in rural broadband grants.
In his annual State of the State address, Ducey also said he wants to invest $50 million in the Smart Highway Corridors program designed to increase broadband access along rural highways.
The Smart Highways Corridors program has been tasked with installing 500 miles of broadband conduit and fiber optic cable throughout Arizona.
The immediate effect will see cables installed on Interstate 17 between Sunset Point and Flagstaff, as well as along the more than 330 miles of Interstate 40 between the New Mexico and California borders.
A third project area is focusing on cable installation along Interstate 19 between Tucson and Nogales.
“This will make our highways safer and smarter than ever before and pave the way to get all of rural Arizona logged on,” Ducey said.
Last year the Arizona State Legislature provided up to $3 million in funding for the rural broadband initiative, targeting cities and towns with fewer than 150,000 residents.
Counties with less than 750,000 people, along with federally-based Indian tribes located within the state, have also been eligible for funding.
Grants have been awarded in two categories: for shovel-ready projects and larger broadband planning efforts.
Grant recipients so far have included the town of Springerville in northeast Arizona with a population of around 2,000, and the city of St. Johns, near the New Mexican border, with a population of around 3,500.
By Garry Boulard
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