CASPER, Wyo. — The roughly $2.2 million first phase of the Midwest Avenue reconstruction project is nearing completion but Casper has yet to identify funding for phase III.
Casper has failed to secure federal grant funding on five applications for the third phase of the project which is for the stretch between Walnut and Poplar Streets.
Community Development Director Liz Becher says that some changes to the rules behind the grants are leading the city to feel cautiously optimistic that they’ll be successful with their most recent application for a $2 million grant.
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She told the Downtown Development Authority at their Wednesday, Oct. 9 meeting that under the Obama administration population rules for the “Tiger Grant” forced Casper to compete with large urban centers like Denver.
Changes to the definition of population under the Trump administration’s “Build Grant” define Casper as rural, which Becher says puts the city in a much more favorable position when seeking funding.
Treto Construction is the contractor for the first phase of the project. While the section between David and Ash Streets are open, Becher says that Treto still needs to complete some sidewalk work as well as underground utility work stretching over to Elm Street.
She says that the reconstruction project works out to about $1 million per block.
Phase II of the project will focus on the area between Elm and Walnut Streets. Becher says that phase will be put out to bid in two months to find a contractor to complete the work.
The city council has allocated $1.9 million for this phase and a $1.5 million State Lands and Investment Board grant secured further funding for this section.
Construction on that portion of Midwest will begin in spring 2020.
That phase is expected to be complete in 2021 with phase III looking at a 2023 completion date.
Casper Mayor Charlie Powell said at the meeting that the Midwest reconstruction project is important to ensure that Casper has a “seamless” corridor from I-25 across the Poplar Street bridge and into the Old Yellowstone District and downtown.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is planning to widen the Poplar Street bridge over the North Platte River to add lanes and improve traffic flow.