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Fiber optic cable work creates mess in Baton Rouge neighborhood

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BATON ROUGE - Crews have been busy installing AT&T fiber optic cable in neighborhoods around the capital city. Recently, a project in Southdowns created a headache for one resident who contacted 2 On Your Side to bring awareness.

Dan Eiklor lives off of Glasgow Avenue in Baton Rouge. A few weeks ago, he says someone came by to mark utilities, and soon after an AT&T crew showed up to bore fiber optic cable underground. While he's excited about fast, reliable internet coming to his neighborhood, what happened during and after the construction work has been a nightmare.

"First thing they did was I noticed they actually took out my neighbor's water main," he said.

Water leaked down his street for a few weeks. He says the water company came to fix it, but that wasn't the only issue. A couple of weeks later during a rain storm, he noticed his drainage line was backing up. He installed the drainage system last year to help his property drain.

Eiklor says the boring machine used to run the cable bore right into his pipe. Now that it's hurricane season, it's making him worry.

"My yard will flood and it'll be me and a raincoat with a pitch ax going through and digging a trench if this isn't working," he said.

Eiklor called AT&T customer service when he first noticed the problem but says he spent six hours on the phone trying to report it.

"It was fortunate and unfortunate that I had the day off to do nothing but hound AT&T to figure out how to get my line fixed," said Eiklor.

He looked up the company's claims company and called them instead. Now he's waiting for repairs.

An AT&T spokesperson says its goal is to minimize the impact on residents before, during, and after construction and keep them informed throughout the network expansion process. If construction-related issues do occur, the spokesperson says it works quickly to resolve and restore any impacts from the work. People who have questions or concerns about AT&T's fiber optic expansion work can call 800-288-2020.

An AT&T spokesperson said damage can occur for a several reasons, from contractor error to locates not being accurate. AT&T says its contractors are trained to obtain proper permitting, closely follow local construction codes, and abide by rules governing rights-of-way and property easements.

Eiklor says the mess at his house could have been prevented and now he wants it fixed promptly.

"For me, it's really just making sure that I get my line fixed before we actually get a storm," he said.

Eiklor had a message for others.

"If you see someone digging, don't assume they know what they're doing," he said.

The City-Parish says AT&T pulls permits for the work it does and to contact AT&T for more information about where it's laying cable.

During its investigation, 2 On Your Side found that AT&T was unable to provide much information about the "before" part of the construction. When asked, AT&T could not provide information regarding where and when fiber optic cable is installed, but was able to provide a link to check the current availability of AT&T fiber.

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