The Jefferson County Road and Bridge Department was presented with a bill for a fiber optic repair from Blackfoot Communications in the amount of $11,700, after the department slightly damaged the company’s fiber optic line in April.

Road and Bridge Administrator Dave Walrath said the department was helping in cleaning up the Harrison Canal at the bridge on 3900 E. when one of the operators made contact with the fiber optic line.

“It turned out that that fiber fed all of the 911 service north of here, clear to Montana,” Walrath said. “Luckily the damage that was done was not to the extent where the phone service didn’t work.”

He said the week before the department began they had the utilities marked and that they were aware of the fiber optic line, however it wasn’t as deep as the line was supposed to be.

“It was not as deep as it should have been,” he said.

During the ordeal, Walrath said they discovered the fiber optic line was not buried under the bridge footing, but was installed going over it and through the bridge, something the department would not have agreed to begin with.

After splicing the line, the utility company put the line in conduit along the bridge on the top, as opposed to underneath, and sent the bill to the department.

“I don’t think we should pay it,” Walrath said. “The fiber was in the wrong place. It’s pretty difficult for me to clean out beneath a bridge when there is fiber above the footing level.”

Commissioner Scott Hancock agreed with Walrath and suggested he speak with County Attorney Weston Davis to draft a letter to be sent to the utility company.

“They would’ve had to replace this once it was found anyway,” Hancock said. “This is just correcting something that they did wrong to begin with.”

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