Residents Upset over Sloppiness

Residents Upset over Sloppiness

Residents are unhappy with work Verizon crews have done laying new cable.

While installing fiber optic cables in the North Reston area, Verizon Communications upset a number of the residents because of the way it did its work. Residents from different clusters in North Reston complained of negligent work by the crews, employed by Ivy H. Smith, the site contractor.

"It looks like they are digging graves," said Martin Dapot, resident and president of the Bentana Woods cluster, situated off North Shore Drive. The "graves" Dapot is talking about are holes dug 4 to 5 feet deep, 18 inches wide, and around 6 feet long. The holes are used to deploy an air-driven missile system, which detects possible obstructions for the fiber optic cable to be laid underground.

These holes, however, are dug every 20 or so feet. They pass through personal property, as well as flowerbeds and other green growth along the Reston roads.

"I think Verizon completely dropped the ball on not realizing how Reston was planned around flowerbeds, and green spaces," said Dapot.

Verizon is installing the fiber optic cable across the whole Reston community. The cable will allow homes and businesses to directly connect to Verizon’s high-speed network. The work is done along the existing copper cable line, where a utility easement exists. Verizon expects the work in North Reston to last two to three months, depending on the weather. Work in South Reston, south of Dulles Toll Road, will not begin for at least six months.

THE FIBER OPTIC CABLES installed by Verizon will deliver faster data speeds to its customers, a "crystal clear" voice, and a capability to offer a wide range of video services in the future. The fiber optic cables are not affected by long periods of wet weather, as the previously installed copper-wire cables had the potential to be.

"What we’re doing is revolutionary," said Harry Mitchell, the spokesman for Verizon Communications. He added that whenever underground work is involved the crews try to make the work as unobtrusive as possible. He said Verizon understands that some residents may be frustrated, but that the crews are working on restoring the surface to what it was before the work.

Jim Elder is another Reston resident who complained to Reston Association and Ivy H. Smith about the way the work was done in North Reston. "Legally they have a right to do this," said Elder, because of the easement the company secured, "but they have an obligation to clean up." Elder said he waited for a week for crews to begin cleaning up the mess left behind them, but nothing was happening.

He said he got fed up with waiting, and faxed a number of complaints to Ivy H. Smith and to Verizon. It was after the complaints that the crews did begin to clean up behind them, and to restore some of the dug up ground along the cable line. He added he was glad the situation was moving in the right direction, but said the reason why it was moving in the right direction is because so many residents complained.

However, the residents do not consider Ivy H. Smith to be the guilty party in the sloppy work its crews are doing. Dapot said the company is instructed on what to do by Verizon, and the mess is therefore Verizon’s responsibility. He added Ivy H. Smith has made steps to correct what has gone wrong, although he had to be "quite persistent" to get the results. "Ivy H. Smith have been very helpful," said Dapot, "but Verizon have not been very savvy in how they set this up." Had Verizon given more thought to the work they instructed Ivy H. Smith to do, Dapot said, they could have avoided a lot of the problems that are being raised.

ALTHOUGH SOME RESTORATION of the dug up land has taken place, other restoration will have to wait until the weather gets warmer. The restoration happening now is on the grass areas, which can be reseeded in this weather. Asphalt areas, sidewalks and roads, will be temporarily patched for now, and then completely restored after temperatures reach more than 42 degrees consistently. Dapot said the crews dug up a road in his cluster that the residents paid over $30,000 to have redone three months ago. They were promised a complete restoration of the road, but will have to wait for it.

Reston Association will prepare a list of spaces that need to be restored. Brian Murphy, RA’s Maintenance Director, and Kevin Munroe, RA’s Environmental Resources Specialist, will be in charge of preparing the list, and will work directly with Ivy H. Smith site supervisors to ensure adequate restoration of the areas.