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CHEYENNE – Since the tragic flood of 1985 that claimed 12 lives in Cheyenne, the City has completed more than 20 infrastructure projects to control flooding -- spanning the 34 years since the event.
The flood control projects range in size from the development of the Leo A. Pando Park in 1997, to pipe improvements along Fox Farm and Albany Avenue, to -- most recently -- the Civic Commons and the 26th Street storm water interceptor.
Current work is being done along Evers Boulevard and more is on the horizon including furthering the 26th Street storm water drain east past the Capitol building, similar work along Duff Avenue, and co-creating a Dry Creek Master Plan with Laramie County officials.
Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said the work will continue with prioritization and funding to support these much-needed improvements.
“We have aging and insufficient infrastructure and our pipes underneath the ground can no longer support the demands placed on them,” Orr said. “What used to be open fields that could soak up the snow pack, rain, and hail are now concrete and asphalt. Storm-water is sent into our drainage system but in some parts of Cheyenne, the infrastructure is maxed out. We must address the needs of our current neighborhoods while carefully planning future neighborhood development.”
“These projects are expensive and the taxpayers have funded them with 5th and 6th pennies which we -- in turn – leverage for matching state and federal dollars,” she said. “That’s $35 million dollars spent and was shared between state and federal funds.”
Orr said there was much more to be done and is developing a prioritized plan of improvements. Concurrently, Orr said she was working on securing support and funding to carry these improvements out.
“I’m asking our state lawmakers to support legislation that would allow cities and towns the ability to create a storm-water drainage utility to fund and manage this kind of necessary work,” she said.
“This is a matter of public health and safety,” Orr said. “Taking care of what’s underground is just as important as the streets we drive on. It’s critical. It’s not an exciting investment because it’s easy to ignore what we don’t see but we must protect our citizens from flooding.”