It won't be long before folks in Laramie will be using the new Harney Street viaduct to get from one side of the tracks to the other.

Steve Cook, resident engineer for WYDOT in Laramie, says the contract for work is set to go to bid in October. That would put the start of construction in spring 2017, as soon as the weather allows.

The project will involve building the new roadway, bridgework, demolishing an old refinery site on the west side and widening the Laramie River bridge to four lanes. Cook says the Clark Street bridge will be demolished once traffic is flowing across the new Harney Street viaduct sometime in 2018.

The assistant chief engineer for WYDOT puts the total estimated cost at $29 million, and Cook says most of those dollars will come from the federal government.

According to Cook, the Clark Street structure was built in 1963 and was a bit of an experiment. Cook says a lightweight aggregate was used in the deck and superstructure, but "it's just not performing."

Furthermore, the bridge's rubber expansion devices have a tendency to leak water, damaging the substructure. Those two factors make up the lion's share of the reason Laramie needs a new way across the tracks.

"It's just not cost-effective to try to salvage that bridge," says Cook.

So far, the old U-Haul building and a steel structure near Kmart have been demolished. Three houses WYDOT owns on the west side will also have to go, with one headed to Elk Mountain for department housing and the other two set to be demolished.

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