Merski bill would help smooth path for broadband infrastructure

Would create uniform procedures for installing cable across railroad tracks

ERIE, May 11 – State Rep. Bob Merski introduced legislation today to standardize and streamline procedures for installing broadband cable across railroad tracks. 

Merski, D-Erie, said he introduced H.B. 1151 – which would establish uniform procedures for applications, approvals, fees and installation of cable – to prevent administrative and logical issues that can delay getting the needed infrastructure in place.

“New funding and plans being deployed by our state broadband commission are laying the foundation for better connections in Erie and statewide. But as with any infrastructure project, there are roadblocks that threaten to slow the process,” Merski said. “One of those involves administrative snarls that can arise when fiber optic cable needs to be installed across railroad rights of way.

“To help us address this proactively, I have introduced legislation that would create uniform procedures for broadband companies to use when they need to install cable across tracks. Having set standards in place for issues like obtaining railroad approval, setting licensing fees and installing the cable would help save taxpayer dollars and streamline the process so there are fewer delays in delivering these essential connections.”

Merski’s bill would establish an application process for broadband providers and timelines for approval of applications, implement procedures for constructing or installing broadband across tracks, establish licensing fees, and outline related duties of the Public Utilities Commission.

The bill will be referred to a House committee for further consideration.