Fla. County to Verizon: Stop

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Verizon Communications’ fiber-optic build-out in Hillsborough County, Fla., hit a snag when county officials delivered a stop-work order late last week in response to about 200 hits on county-owned sewer and water lines.

In the highest-profile incident, on Nov. 12, a car sank into the ground when the roadbed caved in beneath it.

Verizon is upgrading its plant throughout Hillsborough and Pasco counties in advance of the launch of products such as video.

Scott Cottrell, director of the engineering division of the county’s public-works department, said the stop-work order was issued when the infrastructure-damage reports came in at a rate “that’s way too frequent.”

County officials and Verizon executives have already met to create inspection plans that will prevent most incidents in the future and allow the county to lift the order, Cottrell said. Most of the damage was caused by equipment drilling under driveways, he said, adding that the county is ready to amend the order to allow Verizon to proceed with hand digging only.

Verizon spokesman Bob Elek noted that the company has constructed 6.5 million path feet since the project began in March. It would be impossible to work flawlessly given that level of activity, he added. After the incident with the car, Verizon voluntarily stopped building before the county order, he said.

The build continues in Pasco County and in the city of Tampa, he added.

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