Metromedia Fiber Optic Cable Network in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles Basin

Project Description


The Applicant:  Metromedia Fiber Network Services, Inc.

Metromedia Fiber Network (MNF), the leading provider of end-to-end optical network and Internet infrastructure solutions, is revolutionizing the fiber optic industry. By offering virtually unlimited, unmetered bandwidth at a fixed cost, the Company is eliminating the bandwidth barrier and redefining the way broadband capacity is sold.

Together with its subsidiaries, AboveNet Communications, Inc. (a leading provider of co-location and Internet connectivity solutions) and PAIX.NET, Inc. (the leading neutral Internet Exchange), MFN is unleashing the full potential of the Internet.  The combined company facilitates the explosive growth of e-commerce and advanced Internet applications by delivering secure, reliable, and scalable optical networks and IP services to Internet content and service providers, carriers and enterprise users worldwide.

MFN has networks planned in 51 cities across North America, with 17 cities currently under construction.  Each metropolitan area build contains an extensive amount of fiber deployed in ring-based systems for the utmost in redundancy and reliability.  In addition to these extensive intra-city networks, MFN has fiber capacity across the nation and to Europe, linking these cities to create a seamless optical infrastructure. With MFN, businesses can integrate dozens of locations and create a unified network with no boundaries.

Purpose of the Project

Metromedia’s objectives for the proposed project include the following:

  • Provide needed fiber optic telecommunications capacity in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin metropolitan areas of California through the installation of two new fiber optic networks.

  • Expand and enhance California’s national and international telecommunications access and the reliability thereof using high-quality, state-of-the-art fiber optic technology.

  • Avoid or mitigate to less-than-significant levels any significant impacts the project would otherwise have on California's environment.

  • Help meet California’s and the nation’s existing and future demand for telecommunications services.

  • Create positive competitive pressures on existing telecommunications carriers.

  • Promote opportunities for economic growth in California as businesses shift their focus to information services and technology.

The San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin Networks

The project includes (1) the installation of new conduit for which Metromedia is solely or primarily responsible, (2) the repair or replacement of existing conduit for which Metromedia is solely or primarily responsible, and (3) the construction of ancillary facilities called points of presence (POPs).  A POP is the location where the cable would connect to the Public Switched Telephone Network.

Metromedia proposes to install small-diameter (less than 2 inches outside diameter), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or steel conduits to carry fiber optic cables within existing, disturbed rights-of-way (i.e., roadways or railroads) along several linear routes in the two metropolitan areas.  Nearly all of the work would be conducted inside existing disturbed rights-of-way, and buried through use of open trenching or directional boring techniques.  In addition to the fiber optic conduit, a series of POPs would be installed at intervals along the routes.  Where practical, the POPs would be located within existing buildings, but some would be newly constructed within railroad rights-of-way or, in the case of one POP, on private property outside the railroad right-of-way.

The installation of fiber optic cable, which occurs after the fiber optic conduit has been installed, is not included as part of the proposed project; cable installation is covered under Metromedia’s existing Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN).

Project Construction

Two standard construction methods would be used to install the conduit along these routes, open trenching and directional boring.  Chapter 3, Project Description, contains a description of these methods.  The particular methods to be used along the project segments are discussed in Chapter 4, Project Route Description.  Metromedia’s standard installation method would be open trenching or directional boring, with the choice of method depending on site characteristics and other factors discussed in Chapter 3.

Open trenching typically involves use of a rubber-tired backhoe or an excavator to dig a 1-foot-wide by 4-foot-deep trench.  After the conduit is installed in the trench, the trench is backfilled with native soil, new material, or a combination of these, and restored as closely as possible and feasible to pre-construction conditions. 

Directional boring would also be used in some instances to avoid sensitive resources or to cross major roads, minimizing traffic disruptions.  Sensitive resources would include streams with flowing water that support sensitive plant, animal, or fish species or critical habitat; wetlands; habitat of threatened or endangered animal species; sensitive plant populations; and cultural or paleontological resources.  Rerouting may also be used to avoid other sensitive resources.  After directional boring is completed, areas affected by the process would be restored as closely as possible and feasible to pre-construction conditions.

Geographical, topographical, and resource avoidance considerations or availability of rights-of-way may necessitate using a combination of two or more of these methods for installation along each of the project routes.  The particular methods to be used along the project routes, as well as any deviations from the general descriptions, are discussed in Chapter 4.

Metromedia’s primary approach to implementation of the project would be avoidance of impacts.  As described in Chapter 3, Metromedia would incorporate mitigation into the project’s design and construction approach, to avoid or reduce possible environmental impacts to less-than-significant levels.  Metromedia’s commitments include development and implementation of environmental education programs for construction workers, a storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) which includes erosion control and spill prevention countermeasures, biological and cultural resource monitoring during construction in sensitive resource areas, exclusion fencing for sensitive species habitat, erosion and sediment control measures, and a spill prevention and response plan.  Wetlands, rivers and streams, sensitive habitats, cultural resources, and other environmentally sensitive areas would be avoided during installation of the conduit and siting of the POPs through rerouting, boring, or bridge attachment where available.  Specific mitigation measures have also been identified in this ND and would be adopted by Metromedia to avoid or reduce the impacts of the project to less-than-significant levels.  These measures are described in Chapter 6, Environmental Impacts and Mitigation Measures, and are summarized in Table 1-3.


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