BLANDFORDToday, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined Senator Adam Hinds, Representative Smitty Pignatelli, and other local leaders to observe a “core bore,” the drilling required to replace outdated utility poles and deliver broadband internet. Following the demonstration, Governor Baker announced $5 million in supplemental funding through the Last Mile Infrastructure Grant program, which will cover roughly half the average cost of connecting homeowners to newly installed broadband networks in 21 eligible communities.

“Our Administration has prioritized the Last Mile program because we recognize that access to broadband internet is critical for the success of families, businesses and communities in the 21st century economy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud of our progress toward delivering broadband internet to every community in the Commonwealth, including the progress we observed today in Blandford, and pleased to make an additional funding commitment to these communities.”
 
“Governor Baker and I are proud of the partnerships we have built with communities like Blandford to address their unique challenges and promote opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We will continue to leverage programs like Last Mile, MassWorks, and Seaport Economic Council grants to deliver vital infrastructure and stimulate growth across the Commonwealth.”

The work in Blandford is being made possible by a $1.04 million Last Mile grant announced in 2018. Of the more than 60,000 utility poles across all Last Mile towns that are part of the construction project, over 2,400 replacement utility poles will be installed, including approximately 140 poles in Blandford.

The $5 million in supplemental funding announced today will supplement nearly 50% of the typical ‘drop cost’ of connecting homes to the new municipally-owned networks, helping to reduce the cost to homeowners in the eligible towns. The new funding builds on the Administration’s prior commitments totaling more than $7 million toward “make ready” costs associated with installing municipally-owned broadband networks in the eligible unserved communities. 
 
“This Administration is committed to partnering with communities to secure resources and capabilities to stay competitive both now and in the future,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “We remain committed to delivering broadband internet to every municipality in Massachusetts, and are pleased to make additional funding available to eligible communities through the Last Mile Program.”  

The Baker-Polito Administration re-launched the Last Mile Program in 2016 with the aim of delivering broadband access to all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, funded by a 2017 capital bond authorization worth $45 million. Solutions across the Last Mile towns have included those from traditional cable providers, wireless networks, and municipally-owned fiber to the home networks.  The program for the municipally-owned broadband solution is modeled on the Commonwealth’s successful MassWorks Infrastructure Program, a flexible, competitive grant program that funds local infrastructure projects that unlock economic growth. Since its re-launch in 2016, all previously unserved and partially served towns have either built, began construction, or are planning internet solutions with the financial and logistical support of the Administration.

Additional high-resolution photos will be available at flickr.com/massgovernor

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Original release posted at: https://www.mass.gov/news/photo-release-governor-baker-and-lt-governor-polito-observe-core-bore-in-blandford-announce

Media contact: Colleen Arons , Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development at 857-324-0499, colleen.arons (at) mass.gov.