WASHINGTON — As Westfield Gas + Electric continues to design a townwide fiber-optic internet system, Select Board Chairman Jim Huebner is confident the project will come to fruition.

"I'm glad it's happening now," he said. "I'm confident that it will happen."

He said he has not always felt that way.

It has been 10 years since former Gov. Deval Patrick signed the $40 million Broadband Act, pledging to close the gap in access to high-speed internet in the state.

In that time, Washington residents have made do with DSL, satellite and other slow, expensive alternatives to high-speed internet.

Huebner said he expects the design plan will be available soon.

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Westfield Gas + Electric first began the design in the last quarter of 2017.

After that, the next step is bidding the construction.

The town is paying for the project through $770,000 in borrowing authorized at town meeting in 2015 and grant funding from the state.

"This is the rural electrification of our time," said Huebner, who has lived in Washington for over 30 years.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@berkshireeagle.com, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 413-496-6247.