Highway 50 will be open Monday as promised after a 2½-month closure as the road is widened to five lanes.
The opening Monday coincides with the first day of school, which is important because the detour route took drivers past Pronghorn Elementary School on Oakcrest Drive.
Josh Jundt, resident engineer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said the road was shut down to make construction go as quickly as possible, with that Aug. 19 first day of school always in mind.
“We just want to make sure we’re open prior to that date,” he said, adding that the road might open Sunday.
Drivers using Highway 50 still can expect construction on the stretch of road before paving is completed for the year, which will mean traffic control or even a pilot car as work continues, Jundt said.
Travelers will experience two-way, head-to-head traffic with flagging operations and delays.
WYDOT encourages local traffic to consider an alternate route to avoid the delays if time is a factor and highly encourages truck traffic to consider alternate routes.
Much of the project will be completed this year, but the actual completion date is June 30, 2020, he said. Another layer of paving and reclamation likely will be done next year.
“We’re hoping to get as much done this fall as possible,” he said.
Once it’s finished, the section of Highway 50 will have two travel lanes in both directions and a continuous center turn lane. New curb and gutter, storm drains, fence, sidewalk, lighting and traffic signals also will be upgraded and added.
In addition, a 10 foot multi-use path will be installed on the east side of the road to provide continuity with the path located north of the project and a 5-foot sidewalk on the west side.
The traffic signal at Force Road, which was installed as a temporary measure several years ago, will be replaced.
The road initially closed over the Memorial Day weekend and had been impacted, like all construction projects, by the unseasonably wet spring and summer, Jundt said.
Simon Contractors is in charge of the project.
The old Hillcrest Elementary building, which has been around since the 1970s, is showing its age, and it’s costing the school district more than $100,000 a year to maintain.
The building on Butler-Spaeth Road has housed the Kid Clinic for the last five years, but school officials hope to start the conversation to retire the building and find a new home for the Kid Clinic within the next few years.
The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between the school district, Campbell County Health and Campbell County Medical Group to provide primary medical care, behavioral health and substance abuse counseling services.
The clinic serves children ages 2 weeks to 21 years old and hosts counseling services for children ages 4 to 21. Kip Farnum, director of student support services for the Campbell County School District, said about 500 kids walk through the Kid Clinic’s doors each month.
“We do need a new facility, at some point. Hopefully soon,” he said.
The building has issues inside and out.
“It seems like every year we have to upgrade something quite expensive, and we don’t want to do that, given that it’s like throwing our money down the toilet,” Farnum said.
This summer, a compressor went down. He said the district was able to order a new one, but as staff waited for it to come in, “the clinic was literally cooking for a week, and exam rooms had temperatures up in the 80s.”
“The roof is in pretty scary shape,” Farnum said. “If we had one bad hailstorm that pounded it, I think we’d be moving out.”
Amazingly, he said, the building wasn’t damaged by the July 17 hailstorm.
“We lucked out. I don’t know what happened there,” he said. “We did an examination of the roof, and there was no evidence that we took a pounding. Everyone else around us did, it sounds like, but we got lucky.”
Dennis Holmes, assistant superintendent for instructional support, said the building is currently able to serve the Kid Clinic’s needs, but “at some point in time, it’s just going to make better sense to have it at a different location.”
In a perfect world, he said, the Kid Clinic will have a new home in a couple of years.
Both Holmes and Farnum said the Kid Clinic doesn’t need a new building, just a different site.
Farnum said ideally, it would be a place with 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, with room for counselors and medical providers and easy access for transportation.
This last piece is important, Farnum said. The clinic provides transportation for kids so parents don’t have to take time off to bring their kids there, which is “what makes it so successful.”
The old school was retired as an elementary school when the new Hillcrest Elementary School opened in 2009.