Accomack grant would provide universal broadband

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Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband employees, dignitaries, and other attendees pose for a photograph at a celebration of the award of a $15.6 grant, held at Sawmill Park in Accomac on Wednesday, June 29. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

By Carol Vaughn —

The Accomack County Board of Supervisors voted to partner with the Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority to apply for a Virginia Telecommunication Initiative grant for fiscal year 2023.

The proposal is to build nearly 256 miles of broadband network to reach 5,750 additional homes, at an estimated cost of around $9 million, which would result in universal coverage in Accomack.

The vote included committing funds for a match, to be paid for out of money the county received through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The required match is $1.8 million, or 20% of the project cost.

Northampton County also is involved.

“This is an important year because I don’t think there are many more years left of more funding than we are used to coming from our federal partners to be able to make money available to the Commonwealth of Virginia and other states … to get broadband delivered and deployed to everybody,” said Robert Bridgham, ESVBA executive director, in a presentation to the board.

A 2022 VATI grant will bring the Eastern Shore’s broadband coverage to around 80% to 85%, according to Bridgham.

“We don’t want to stop there,” he said, adding of the 2023 application, “This is the last step to completing Accomack County.”

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