Construction of fiber to the home will continue in Rockbridge County, Va., though a recent grant application through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative was not funded.

Rockbridge County, in partnership with BARC Electric Cooperative and the Rockbridge Area Network Authority, had applied for nearly $11 million to support 14 broadband project areas across the county providing connectivity to high-speed internet.

The request included 13 project areas of last-mile fiber construction through BARC with a total project cost of $17.4 million, and one project area of middle-mile fiber construction through RANA totaling $4.4 million, to achieve universal internet coverage throughout the county.

The grant funding committee deemed there were opportunities for the application to develop greater “universal” coverage areas. County officials, along with their broadband partners and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission have continued working together with the Department of Housing and Community Development to ensure future grant funding is possible for remaining areas in Rockbridge not connected to high-speed internet service.

All partners are encouraged with these discussions and plans to move forward with connecting residents and businesses in Rockbridge are slated to continue, despite the lack of VATI funding.

BARC has begun the process of preliminary construction tasks in five of the application project areas and will continue plans for construction to meet the region’s broadband needs. Rockbridge is continuing to work with both BARC and RANA to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved areas in the county. All partners are planning to submit a revised application for VATI funding in 2022 while continuing to move forward by providing access to high-speed internet service in Rockbridge.

Though it was disappointing to have not received VATI grant funding for 2022, the county, and partners RANA and BARC, remain committed to expanding broadband service in Rockbridge and believe universal connectivity is within our reach.

—Report by Tish Blackwell, Director of Communications, BARC Electric Cooperative