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CHEYENNE – In an effort to improve downtown drainage and better protect the recent Capitol renovations, the city of Cheyenne, the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities and the state of Wyoming have come together to fund the Capitol Basin 26th Street Interceptor Storm Sewer Extension project, and construction on the $3.2 million infrastructure improvement will begin in May and continue through summer.

While a number of street and sidewalk improvements will be carried out during the project, the main purpose is to increase the capacity of the storm sewer system downtown near the Capitol.

“This storm line is really intended to help the capital – the state is partnering with the city to help protect everything that we just built,” City Construction Engineer Sam Berta said during a public meeting on the project this week.

The extension project is a continuation of improvements to the drainage system after the 1985 flood wreaked havoc on the downtown area, dumping water as high as 7 inches and requiring sandbag barricades to be placed around the Capitol. The state also recently invested roughly $300 million to renovate the Capitol, including the basement, so the new system will help protect that investment from damage during bad storms.

The idea is that the system will capture the water flowing from the north side before it flows into downtown.

“The current project has potential to provide significant storm drainage protection to the Capitol complex, residential homes and surrounding areas located within the Lower Capitol Basin Drainage Basin,” Office of State Lands and Investments Grants and Loans Manager Beth Blackwell said in an email to the WTE. “Storm water flow down Capitol Avenue and Carey Avenue will be captured in the storm water system and be safely redirected away from the Capitol Complex and surrounding neighborhood.”

P.E.I Wyoming will begin the first phase of construction in May and work until the weather allows, with a pause in work for Cheyenne Frontier Days to minimize any disturbances. The majority of the work should be finished by fall, but the finishing touches on the project will likely have to wait until next construction season.

Residents can expect to see construction and closures between O’Neil and Pioneer avenues before CFD, and from Pioneer to Central avenues after CFD and into fall. Roads will be closed in phases, and Berta said the construction crews will focus on getting the work done quickly to not interrupt traffic more than needed.

“We’re going to try to get in there, get the infrastructure done, get the surfacing back on, then open that street up,” Berta said.

Some temporary pavement may also be laid before Frontier Days to mitigate any hazards or traffic issues during Cheyenne’s largest event. The bulk of construction will be completed this year, but some pavement work and landscaping will likely be completed next year.

According to Blackwell, access to the Capitol Building and Herschler Buildings will still be available along Central Avenue, Carey Avenue, and 24th Street.

The final result will include a larger water line down 26th Street, as well as a larger water main, work on the storm and sanitary sewers, and resurfacing of the curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

Project funding includes about $1.12 million from the city, $1.55 million from the state and $520,000 from the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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