Lander to enter design phase on flood mitigation barrier

h/t US Army Corps of Engineers graphic.

(Lander, WY) –  The City of Lander has officially signed a Project Partnership Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for the design and potential construction of a Flood Mitigation Barrier.

The decision was made at the October 12th Lander City Council meeting, in an effort to plan for possible 50 year and 100 year flood events in the Popo Agie River and Lander areas.

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Estimated design and construction costs total at $8,595,600, of which the City would be responsible for $3,008,460, affecting city funding for the 2021 to 2024 Fiscal Years.

From that total, the city will be allowed a 65% federal share ($5,587,140), and will then pay the other 35% ($3,008,460) local share.

Of the $3,008,460 local share, there will be a 5% cash match totalling $429,800, which will come out of the general fund.

h/t US Army Corps of Engineers graphic.

The following graphic shows the area that would be affected by the barrier.

h/t US Army Corps of Engineers graphic.

A feasibility study was first conducted by the Corps of Engineers, where they surveyed river cross sections instead of using assumed data and Lidar data from the 2010 flood.

Based on the new data, precipitation or snow melt information was updated, as well as 2010 and 2017 flood performances.

The below graphic displays the potential paths of both 50 year and 100 year flood events for the Popo Agie River and Lander area.

h/t US Army Corps of Engineers graphic.

According to the initial study, structure and potential loss of life inventories were conducted, which concluded that 977 residential and 261 non-residential structures would be affected by a 100 year event, 1,238 in total.

h/t US Army Corps of Engineers graphic.

The tentative implementation schedule is as follows:

  • October 2021 – Signed PPA
  • Oct./Nov. 2021 – Design surveys and geotech borings
  • February 2022 – Design kickoff
  • March 2022 – Local Value Engineering workshop
  • September 2022 – 65% design drawings
  • March 2023 – 95% design drawings
  • June 2023 – Issue solicitation and construction contract
  • FY 2024 – Construction

Concerns about the barrier were raised from a few local citizens, including Warren Thompson, who worries that the barrier will bring down property values for him and his neighbors.

Former Lander Mayor Del McOmie also expressed concerns, suggesting the money could be used to work on the problem areas, while a temporary wall could be used as protection on a longer-term basis.

Robert Tipton, a retired Lander resident and former Corps employee, spoke in favor of the barrier, stating “If we don’t take control of that ground and we continue to develop, we are going to be in a world of hurt. This project gives us the opportunity to acquire green space that Lander desperately needs.”

“You won’t get the opportunity to get 60% funding from the federal government,” Tipton added.

Concerns were also raised from the Council about being able to opt out of the agreement if the designs end up not meeting the City’s needs and/or expectations.

Assistant Mayor RaJean Strube Fossenthen stated, per their understanding, “At any time during the design and construction process, if the federal allocation is not awarded by Congress or that the state and city doesn’t have money, then you can stop or slow down the process.”

“If we go through the design process and end up not liking it, we can say we don’t want the money. That would either end or delay the process,” Strube Fossen later added.

Robert Tipton then commented, “There are a lot of projects that the Corps goes forward with on design that never get executed and are still sitting around, so it does happen all the time.”

Council Member John Larsen ultimately moved to approve the motion, Council Member Julia Stuble seconded, with Mayor Monte Richardson and the rest of the Council unanimously agreeing to move forward with the project.

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