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Information highways? Yes! Wider roads? No!



JACKSON, Wyo. - Information highways? Yes! Four-lane highways? No!

That would seem to be the common theme in rural parts of the West. Those that are lagging in bandwidth want more, more, more. Not so much highways.

State highway officials in Wyoming's Teton County want to expand the existing two-lane highway south of Jackson to five lanes. County commissioners instead see a medley of three, four and five lanes. They may sue the state.

They are particularly concerned that the wider highway would be less permeable to wildlife.

Local officials, meanwhile, are also considering a proposal for 120 miles of fibre-optic line across the county and into Idaho.

The new line would increase Internet speeds five-fold to 100-fold, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide. It would also provide redundancy. Earlier this year, cell phone service was lost for 26 hours when a flash flood several hundred miles away severed a cable.

In Colorado, the Silverton community, located high and remote in the San Juan Mountains also seeks redundancy - and, for that matter, a fibre optic line of its own. The existing fibre optic line stops 16 miles short of the town, near Molas Divide. Town officials say microwave, the community's existing link to the outside world, delivers too little bandwidth.

"Nobody is putting in microwave," says Patrick Swonger, a town councilman. "Nobody is doing that. It's all fibre optic. Those are the highways of the future."

Community officials charge that they were promised fibre-optic connection under a Colorado program launched in 2002 to connect all county seats, including Silverton.

Instead of delivering an information highway, says San Juan County Administrator Will Tookery, "They barely widened the existing mule train."


Vail & Aspen surpass $1 billion

ASPEN, Colo. - A more vigorous real estate economy has been evident in the Vail and Aspen areas this year.

Eagle County, where Vail is located, surpassed $1.25 billion through October, while Pitkin County and Aspen were a few steps behind at $1.02 billion. Both had dropped below $1 billion last year.

During the boom years of the last decade, both had surpassed $2 billion, with Eagle County almost hitting $3 billion one year.


Aspen Skiing Co. to build housing

ASPEN, Colo. - Aspen and Snowmass Village have plenty of spare bedrooms at the moment. So, the Aspen Skiing Co. had no trouble filling out its peak season employment roster of 3,500 for its four ski areas and associated enterprises.

Just the same, the company continues its effort to add employee housing, reports The Aspen Times. The company plans to add 600 "beds" to the existing 550 in Aspen and other locations in the Roaring Fork Valley. Some units are for seasonal employees, but the company also has built single-family and other housing types for year-round workers.

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