Rep. Steven Horsford moves to protect rural broadband grant

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., has brokered a deal to protect a grant needed by Nevada’s rural hospitals.

The $19.6 million grant was awarded to the Nevada Hospital Association to provide fiber-optic connections between Las Vegas and Reno and between the I-80 and U.S. 50 corridors in eastern Nevada.

The line was designed to serve rural hospitals in the state by providing broadband Internet services to them. The system also would provide additional capacity for public safety and other government agencies, tribal governments and educational institutions.

The money was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

But the project was endangered when the Bureau of Land Management decided to require a full reclamation bond before allowing the infrastructure to be installed across BLM lands. The cost of those bonds would have greatly increased the cost of the project, leaving the association in danger of losing the grant.

Horsford said the hospital association contacted his office in March and he worked with the association and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration which agreed to do reclamation activities for the project. With that assurance, the bonding requirement was waived. In addition, he convinced the government to grant a one-year extension on the grant.


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