Fiber optics crews leave trail of broken sewer, cable, sprinkler lines in Altamonte Springs

Altamonte Springs city manager says company shows ‘indifference’ to damage

Subcontractors with Colorado-based WIDEOPENWEST or “WOW!” have torn apart residential lawns cable and sewer lines as they cut a path for underground fiber optics across Seminole and Orange counties.

The WOW! door hanger messages left in some neighborhoods promised “to take special care of your lawn and take necessary restorations needed during construction.”

During our reporting, to date, we have seen brown dried-out sod, crews sleeping and eating on private property, clipped internet lines, ruptured sewer lines, and crews that shrug at residents because they cannot speak English.

Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz told News 6 the company seems to take the attitude that you need to prove WOW! crews were behind the damage.

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“I’ve got to take out staff at Altamonte Springs at taxpayer expense, to bird dog these people just to tell the truth,” a frustrated Martz said. “What has been most troubling for us is the indifference these companies have shown when they break public utility lines.”

A WOW! subcontractor who refused to give his name said any damage would be fixed immediately.

“We fix them as soon as we break them,” he said. “We will replace the sod, if the sprinkler lines are broken, we fix everything.”

In March, Altamonte Springs hit WOW! with a permit violation, writing in part: ”WOW! has caused repeated and significant damage.”

Photos of massive holes created from sewer breaks at Hattaway Drive and Barclay Avenue, and State Road 436 in front of the Kohl’s shopping center are just two of the locations.

Damage caused by WOW! crews along State Road 436 near State Road 434 caused this flooding. (City of Altamonte Springs)

Martz said he has roughly 100 complaints from residents reporting broken sewer lines, broken sprinkler heads, cut cables, and trash and bottles left behind by WOW! crews.

In one Seminole County neighborhood, the resident’s internet cable line was cut five times.

Jim and Linda asked we not use their last name but wanted to expose sloppy workmanship and disorganization.

So far, two separate companies, WOW! and MetroNet, have ripped up their lawn five times to date, to install fiber optics in separate locations in front of their home.

The crews have broken a sprinkler head and left the lawn a brown mess.

Altamonte Springs confirms there are at least two more fiber optics companies coming, they just don’t know who or when.

A spokesperson for WOW! indicated they would “get back to us” but as of this posting, they have not answered our questions.

Their door hanger message, which features a dog with human hands holding a shovel, says you can call customer advocates at 321-233-2236.

If you have a consumer or investment issue email or text the words “make ends meet” to 407-676-7428, including your email and the issue.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.