City engineer seeks increase in road maintenance funds from sixth penny

Hannah Black, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·3 min read

Apr. 17—CHEYENNE — The city engineer's office has proposed a sixth-penny sales tax ballot measure of at least $24 million over four years for pavement maintenance stabilization, and another $11.4 million for improvements to Converse Avenue.

"Both are very important pieces to our greatest asset in our city," City Engineer Tom Cobb said, referring to Cheyenne's roadways.

The city currently allocates $4.5 million per year to roadway maintenance, Cobb said. Without additional funding, the overall condition of Cheyenne's streets will deteriorate in the next 10 years, Cobb told the City Council during a Friday work session.

The city keeps track of the condition of each of its roadways using a Pavement Condition Index. When they were last evaluated in 2018, more than half of the city's roads were classified as "good" or "satisfactory," the two highest classifications, which Cobb called "a very good start."

However, 20.3% of the roads were considered "fair," 15% considered "poor" and the remainder considered "very poor," "serious" or "failed."

"When it hits a 'failed,' these streets have reached a point where we cannot address these streets rapidly," Cobb said. "We have to push those off to a later date, because what happens is if we started addressing these failed streets first, reconstructing a street to bring it up to a level 100% level, by doing one failed street, we end up losing 10 good streets, and that's not what we want to do. We want to actually keep chipping away at all the streets, and when the time is right, come back and replace the ones that are failed."

The office's request of $10.5 million annually for roadway maintenance is an increase of $6 million per year.

The challenge with requesting funding, Cobb said, is to find a "Goldilocks point" that may not incorporate all of the office's desires, but is an amount that everyone would be able to live with while also maintaining roadways.

"If you were to tell me that I have anything I wanted, I'd tell you I'd want an additional $7.8 million. But I think we can live with the $6 million, and maintain our (Pavement Condition Index) enough to be able to carry us through," Cobb said.

Councilman Pete Laybourn asked if some of the money would be put aside for gravel road maintenance, which would particularly affect Ward 3. Cobb said no, that the current funding proposal would just get city roads to a "serviceable" point, and that improvements to gravel roads would take more money.

Converse Avenue improvements

Recommendations for the Converse Avenue Improvement Plan, which is being developed by the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization, are being suggested based on current crash data and traffic data, as well as projections about future traffic that may need to be accommodated in the year 2045.

The draft plan recommendations include widening Converse to six or even seven lanes, just north of Dell Range, which would transition to three lanes north of Mason Way; adding traffic signals at Mason Way and Point Bluff; adding a roundabout at Carlson Avenue; and constructing a new local road connection from the neighborhood east of Converse Avenue.

The request for $11.4 million in funding includes $6.5 million for roadway developments, $2.5 million for drainage improvements, and $275,000 to widen a culvert, plus money for a 20% contingency and to account for inflation.

Friday's work session included the last of the city's sixth-penny proposals. The council will now work to finalize the list of requests before forwarding the list for this fall's ballot to county commissioners by April 28.

Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at hblack@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.