Lewis County PUD Gets Nearly $9.5 Million for Broadband

Internet: State Funds to Go Toward Broadband Infrastructure in Mineral, Vader Areas


The Lewis County Public Utility District will benefit from nearly $9.5 million in funding after the Washington State Public Works Board approved $44.6 million in conditional grants on Friday for 15 broadband construction projects in unserved communities across the state.

The PUD received the largest chunk of funding in this latest round of grant funding, which is part of the state Legislature’s infrastructure commitment to connect communities with little or no reliable broadband internet, according to a news release.

About $4.73 million was allocated to the PUD for projects in the Mineral, Elbe and Ashford areas, and $4.72 million was allocated for work in the greater Vader area.

“To thrive in today's society, internet access is a necessity for children, families, elders and businesses. Affordable high-speed internet spurs economic growth and development, educates our students, facilitates telemedicine in rural communities, and more. The federal and state governments are making significant broadband infrastructure investments to move Washingtonians towards a more connected state and nation,” Public Works Board Chair Kathryn Gardow said in a written statement.

Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown said that the funding is “among the important ways we’re working towards digital equity in Washington state. Working in tandem with the state Broadband Office and the Washington State Office of Equity, we are one step closer to our goal of making broadband available and affordable for every community in Washington, and to make sure everyone has the tools and skills they need to securely and successfully use the internet.”

Project funding was also allocated to Clallam, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lincoln and Pacific counties. The ports of Clarkston, Columbia, Coupeville, Garfield and Skagit also received funding, as well as the towns of Skykomish and Washtucna and Pacific County PUD.

Lewis County PUD is also waiting to hear back early next year on a $10.6 million ask from the state Broadband Office to bring broadband internet out to Randle and Packwood. Lewis County and ToledoTel, in a joint partnership, have also applied for the same grant — the Infrastructure Acceleration Grants program — in order to bring fiber optic internet out to the greater Winlock area.