Broadband Construction FAQ
Broadband Terminology
Washington Broadband Funding Programs

PWB Broadband

Eligible Applicants for State Funding

Public Entities:
• Cities and Towns
• Counties
• Public Port Districts
• Public Utility Districts
• Other Special Purpose Districts
• Quasi-Municipal Corporation
• Tribes
• Nonprofit Organizations
• Cooperative Associations

Private Entities:
• Limited liability corporations organized for the purpose of expanding broadband access
• Incorporated businesses or partnerships

To ensure that a grant or loan to a private entity primarily serves the public interest and benefits the public, there must be a guarantee that the asset or infrastructure to be developed will be maintained for public use for a period of at least fifteen years.

Funding Limits for State Funding

• $2 million per project loan/grant award limit with a 50% match.
• Projects in financially distressed areas and Indian country may receive up to 90% of the total project cost for a total not to exceed $5 million.

Information

Washington Public Works Board invites public input on changes to broadband funding program

The Public Works Board (PWB) invites participation in rule-making to implement ESHB 1673, enacted during the 2022 regular session of the Washington state legislature. Input from two public workshops in November and a public hearing session in February will also help guide implementation of rules.

For more information, please view the related supplemental documents (on Box).

Workshop/Public Hearing Registration Information

Participation in both workshops and the hearing is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Zoom meeting links will be provided with registration.

For questions about the program amendments or public input process, please contact one of the Public Works Board Broadband Program staff members listed on this page.

For more information, please view the related supplemental documents (on Box).

Broadband Staff

Sheila Richardson
Broadband Program Director  sheila.richardson@commerce.wa.gov  Phone: 564-999-1927

Tammy Mastro
Broadband Program Manager
tammy.mastro@commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-791-2805

Ava Gombosky
Broadband Project Manager
ava.gombosky@commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-338-5739


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Program Resources

In order to protect the rich cultural heritage of Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 21-02 (GEO 21-02). Recipients of state capital funds must consult with the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) and any Federally recognized Indian tribes that may have cultural and/or historic interest or concerns in the project’s vicinity. However, if the project is subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act  through federal involvement (such as the use of Federal funding or the need to acquire Federal permits), then the Governor’s Executive Order (GEO) 21-02 process is unnecessary.

Recipients will not move forward with any pre-construction or construction activities that will disturb soils(such as, drilling test wells, completing geo-tech work, grading, clearing, etc.), or construction activities until GEO 21-02 is completed (and/or both the SERP and 106 processes, if applicable) and the PWB has issued a final compliance letter. If ground-disturbing activities occur prior to the Recipient receiving the final compliance letter, the PWB loan funding will be jeopardized.

A government-to-government relationship must be properly adhered to for the cultural review. As such, it is the PWB’s responsibility to contact the Tribes and the DAHP. The PWB will notify the Recipient when a cultural resources survey is necessary. It is the Recipient’s responsibility to hire a qualified archaeologist to conduct the survey and submit a draft of the survey to the PWB for final approval.

Mark Rentfrow is the Public Works Board’s primary contact regarding the GEO 21-02 process. Award recipients start the process by submitting an EZ1 form to the PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison. The PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison will conduct the consultation with the DAHP and the Tribes. You can email materials to mark.rentfrow@commerce.wa.gov or mail to:

Mark Rentfrow
Department of Commerce
Public Works Board
PO Box 42525
Olympia, WA 98504-2525

The GEO 21-02 process requires award recipients to define the construction project area for potential impact, and identify any building or structures 45-years or older that are located within the project site. For projects that plan to alter structure 45-years of age or older, an online inventory survey must be completed by the Recipient. The DAHP can issue a broad range of responses to the submittal. A common response is a “No Effect Upon Cultural/Historic Properties” letter. If you receive such a letter, you have completed the DAHP portion of the review.

If the DAHP requires more information (completion of additional forms, cultural survey, inadvertent discovery plan, etc.) you must comply with the request. It is possible that you will need to hire a professional archaeologist to address this. Only when the DAHP concurs with the additional materials provided is the DAHP portion of GEO 21-02 complete. For projects that plan to alter structures 45 years of age or older, an online inventory survey must be completed.

Tribal consultation is initiated by the PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison sending a letter to the potential affected Federally recognized Indian tribes(s). The letter details any project information describing the location and extent of the project, along with a map of the impacted area. The Tribe(s) will be allowed at least 30-days to respond. There may be no response, or there may be a wide range of responses to the information provided. As with the DAHP, if additional materials are required, they must be provided to the Tribe(s) and they must concur with the findings.

Statewide Broadband Account

The Statewide Broadband Account is funded through legislative appropriation, the proceeds of bond sales authorized by the legislature, repayment of loans, or any other lawful source.

In the 2019-21 biennium, the Statewide Broadband Account received a $21.5 million transfer from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) for broadband capital projects, less operating costs to staff the program.