Comcast began burying fiber optic cable in Port Royal until police intervened. Here’s why
Port Royal shut down a fiber optic project on Paris Avenue, its main street, on Sunday because it says the company didn’t have a permit to do the work — and the town didn’t know anything about it.
The town owns Paris Avenue, Town Manager Van Willis said, and a contractor for Comcast/Xfinity did not have an “encroachment permit,” which he says is required to do that kind of work.
The contractor, he added, caused damage during the job.
“They hit water lines, irrigation lines, tore up a power pole,” Willis told the Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet Monday morning.
The contractor had the necessary encroachment permit from the South Carolina Department of Transportation for the state-owned Ribaut Road, Willis said, but not the town-owned Paris Avenue.
The town owns Paris Avenue and all the road south of Ribaut Road, “so an SCDOT permit will not suffice,” Willis said. “They have to have an encroachment permit from the town to work on any town-owned road.”
On Saturday, workers could be seen digging trenches and pulling and burying the cable in the boulevard along a roughly 10-block stretch.
Comcast owns Xfinity, which provides TV, internet and phone services.
Comcast is installing a new, fiber-rich network that will provide services to The Preserve at Point Royal apartments, Comcast spokesperson Alex Horwitz said. The work is expected to be done by mid-November.
The Comcast contractor, which had been working under the South Carolina DOT permit, is now pursuing the necessary additional permits, Horwitz said.
“We are working closely with the Town of Port Royal to resolve any outstanding issues,” Horwitz said. “We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”
At 5:19 p.m. Sunday, Port Royal police officers received a call for service at 1748 Paris Ave. regarding a “suspicious company installing fiber optics infrastructure without the town’s approval,” according to a police report.
When officers arrived, they saw workers with a contractor hired by Comcast/Xfinity installing fiber optic and spoke to a foreman, who presented an officer with the “alleged work documentation,” the report says.
The officer then got word from Police Chief Alan Beach to tell the workers to “stand down,” which they did. Willis said he ordered the project stopped.
The workers then finished re-leveling the work area and left, according to the police report.
He’s happy to have the fiber optic cable in Port Royal, Willis said, but not about “broken water lines, irrigation lines, and other related issues.”
Permitted work issued by SCDOT was at the intersection of U.2. 21, or Ribaut Road, and Paris Avenue within the right-of-way limits, said Pete Poore, a SCDOT spokesman. Comcast’s contractor performed work outside of SCDOT right-of-way and is now working with Town of Port Royal to secure an encroachment permit with the Town.
Willis said he has met with contractor and there is a plan to finish the job and make repairs.