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FiOS installation put on hold while Hingham works out problems

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 27, 2011 10:53 AM

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Hingham officials refused to approve grant of location requests for Verizon’s fiber optic cables on three streets, after the company mistakenly installed two conduits elsewhere in town and damaged a resident’s driveway.

Hingham highway supervisor, Harry Slyvester, outlined the problems the town has had with Verizon over the past couple of months.

In one case, the company damaged a driveway while installing a conduit underneath and does not intend to replace the driveway completely. In addition, the company’s contractor installed a conduit on Kress Farm Road in the wrong place, and had installed a conduit on Ringbolt Road without a grant of location approval.

According to Rick Colon, Verizon's regional director for external affairs, the problem was concerning communication between the company, its contractor, and the contractor’s subcontractor.

“[These mistakes] are as unacceptable to Verizon to the town of Hingham,” Colon said. “Internally we have acknowledged a breakdown between our master contractor and its subs. That will be dealt with. And going forward, our master contractor will be communicating clearly with our subs and held accountable for all the work we contract them to do.”

Selectman Bruce Rabuffo said the issue was “disturbing”, and board Chairman John Riley also expressed disappointment with the company.

“It shows a lack of respect to this board and the time spent to negotiate this, and to the town as well,” Riley said. “If I were to be convinced for any more grant of locations, I would like to see those two grant of locations corrected.”

Town Administrator Ted Alexiades wondered why the company had continually had problems installing the system, calling the news “troubling.”

“While Verizon has come to the table to talk…we should allow the area of mistake to be fixed before we move on to other work,” he said.

The conduit on Kress Farm will be abandoned while a new conduit is installed in the proper location. A grant of location will be requested for the already installed conduit at Ringbolt. If the conduit needs to be moved, it will, Colon said.

Although selectmen worked out a plan for the improperly placed conduits, concerns about the resident’s driveway are unresolved.

According to Colon, the contractor was directionally boring underneath the driveway when it hit a boulder, causing the machine to become stuck. The driveway was damaged as the machine was removed.

Although Verizon said they will fix from the damaged part of the driveway to the street, the resident feels his newly installed driveway – less than three years old – should be entirely replaced.

Colon said that technology would allow Verizon to blend the patch area into the existing driveway seamlessly.

The homeowner was unable to attend last night’s meeting, but after speaking with him on the phone earlier that day, Alexiades did not feel that the repair matched the level the driveway had been at before.

“This was a brand new driveway within the last two years. [The homeowner] was rather disappointed to spend money on a brand new driveway to have it cut and patched,” Alexiades said. “I know there are some techniques they can fix it pretty good. …and if it was a 10-year-old driveway, [I’d understand your hesitance to fix the whole thing]. But I concur with the homeowner that he’s been harmed. And the repair is not at the same level.”

Regardless, fixing the entire 90-foot by 10-foot driveway wasn’t something Verizon was going to do, Colon said.

“I don’t mean to sound belligerent, but this location is within the town’s property or Verizon’s easement … we are within our right in this particular driveway,” Colon said.

Verizon will be discussing options with the homeowner to determine if the seal coating and partial reconstruction will be up to par.

Yet it’s an issue Sylvester said could prove problematic for other driveways in the area.

“Before we go forward with more tunneling operations, these driveways could be a major issue for the town … There could be more boulders under more driveways, and there are several driveways that look close to being new [in this area],” Slyvester said. “The board should see to that in discussion of this practice.”

Colon said he would sit down with Alexiades to discuss all these problems and possible mitigation. Until then, future grants of locations, and further FiOSinstallation, will be put on hold.

“At the resolution of those issues, we will entertain another grant of location for future request,” Riley said.

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