If current research supports it, Arizona’s paved highways could also evolve to host internet traffic. “Expanding fiber-optic connectivity along these corridors makes our highways safer and smarter while offering the potential for partners to help make rural Arizona a better place to live and do business,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. The ADOT initiative caught the attention of KGUN9’s Operation Safe Roads team, who reported on the situation.
ADOT is planning to work with the Arizona Commerce Authority to allow private companies to make use of the high capacity lines stretching across the state to deliver internet service. The highway system reaches into remote areas that do not currently have reliable connectivity. The roads under consideration are the I-19 in Southern Arizona, and routes I-17 and I-40.
“Many of our rural communities have the workforce, they have the folks that are able to do these jobs, they just don’t have a broadband infrastructure,” said Jeff Sobotka of the Commerce Authority. “It’s no different than having adequate electricity or freeways into these areas. By expanding broadband we’re going to expand opportunity in a lot of these rural communities that haven’t enjoyed the same boom that cities like Phoenix and Tucson have over the last 10 years.”
Ryan Harding of ADOT also supports the project, noting, “It would also improve highway safety, because then we could also tap into the same conduit and add more overhead message boards, traffic cameras, weather stations, things like that that you could access on 511, and it would help keep the driver safer.” Although no definite blueprint has been drafted yet, the project would be keeping in line with Governor Ducey’s stated goal of bringing high speed internet to all of Arizona.