Billy Adamson scales a communications tower on Thursday, Jan. 7 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Billy Adamson scales a communications tower on Thursday, Jan. 7 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Internet tower construction complete

The borough used CARES Act funds for the project, which aimed to expand internet access

All six communications towers commissioned by the Kenai Peninsula Borough to help expand internet access to rural parts of the peninsula were live as of last Monday.

The Kenai Peninsula specifically allocated $1.2 to $2 million of CARES Act funding for the purpose of improving public access to the internet through tower site development and infrastructure last June, and authorized lease agreements for the project in October.

The borough awarded a grant to SPITwSPOTS, Inc., an Alaska-based internet service provider out of Homer, in August as part of the projects. SPITwSPOTS Chief Operating Officer McKenzie McCarthy said that while the company began conversations about the project immediately, they originally wanted to have it done by the end of December 2020. McCarthy said they faced setbacks such as materials stalling in California due to the COVID-19 pandemic and winter not being their typical construction season.

Five of the six sites, McCarthy said, were completed by Jan. 31. The company came to a separate land lease agreement with the Native Village of Tyonek, for which the borough granted them an extension. McCarthy said Wednesday that they are expecting to come in under budget after the last fiscal report is submitted.

“At the end of the day, I personally feel like the intent that SPITwSPOTS came into this project — an intent to provide improved service in the peninsula — was met,” McKenzie said, adding that he is excited to see what 2021 brings.

Six communications towers were constructed in Bear Creek, Cohoe, Nikiski, Nikolaevsk, Ninilchik and Tyonek.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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