Insufficient cell coverage along the Route 293 corridor in New York led to a multi-year collaboration between West Point, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Verizon Wireless to enact a solution. According to the U.S. Army, Verizon recently built a cell phone tower between the U.S. Military Academy’s Camp Buckner and Camp Natural Bridge along Route 293.
“There were enough instances in our training area along the Route 293 corridor—Camp Buckner, Camp Natural Bridge, all the ranges and the motor pool—where we had some fatalities in areas where the normal radio communication was not sufficient to cover cadet training,” Gary Albaugh, West Point’s deputy chief information officer G-6, said.
According to Albaugh, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T were all contacted and asked to improve service throughout the area. Not only could better coverage help with cadet training, but it could also improve safety for commuters traveling along the 293 corridor, allowing for 911 calls in case of emergency.
Another benefit of the new tower is enabling active-duty soldiers who spend summers at Camp Natural Bridge to communicate with family. Albaugh said before the tower was constructed in mid-May, “There was no ability for them [soldiers] to talk to their significant others and spouses and children.”
Beyond the usual tower process, the Verizon project also worked around active training, bad weather, and even the mating season of the northern long-eared bat. “We lost construction time during about four to six months of the year because there were some bats that were doing the business in nature, and you can’t cut down trees and build a road during that time,” Albaugh said.
The tower site has been leased to Verizon for 25 years by the Corps of Engineers, according to the U.S. Army. In addition, an AT&T tower is expected to be completed in spring 2021, to further bolster coverage in the area.