CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A $126.3 million federal stimulus project designed to expand high-speed Internet across West Virginia is nearly finished, but more than $43.3 million remains unspent, according to a report released last week.
State officials reported that Frontier Communications has installed 583 miles of fiber-optic cable to schools, libraries and other public facilities with only seven miles left to install.
Frontier also has finished all but six miles of an 85-mile project that will provide a fiber connection between West Virginia University and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank in Pocahontas County.
Frontier is due about $45 million for the two projects, but had been paid only $9.6 million as of Friday -- even though the fiber construction is 98 percent finished, according to the report.
Frontier is turning in invoices, but state officials overseeing the massive broadband expansion project haven't signed off on the bulk of payments, according to administrators familiar with Frontier's billing.
"The Office of Technology is in the process of working with the grant implementation team to ensure accuracy and documentation of all invoices and payments," said Diane Holley-Brown, a spokeswoman for that office.
A Frontier spokesman declined comment last week, referring questions to the state officials overseeing the federal stimulus project.
Last November, state Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato notified the federal government that West Virginia expected to have $9 million left over from the $126.3 million project. At the time, the Office of Technology solicited ideas from companies about how to spend the extra money.
Last week, state officials revised their estimate, predicting that $4 million will remain unspent.
With the stimulus funds, Frontier is bringing high-speed fiber to 630 "community anchor institutions" -- schools, libraries, jails, 911 centers, health clinics, county courthouses, planning agencies and other government facilities.
Frontier has finished installing fiber to all but 15 of those sites, according to the report.