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The Laramie City Council voted unanimously Oct. 15 to approve professional services agreements with two consultants relating to utilities.

One of the agreements is with Northline GIS to update the utility maps city staff use every day, allotting $118,750 split between the water reserve fund and wastewater reserve fund toward the firm, with $21,250 as a contingency.

City Engineer Eric Jaap told the council during the meeting the city currently uses hand-drawn maps from the 1980s that, while accurate at the time, are getting harder and harder to update.

“We’ve updated those over the years as best we can, drawing on those records,” Jaap explained to the council. “As new development comes in, it’s very difficult to add that new development onto those maps.”

He added even as the drawings are updated, it can be hard to make sure each of the departments has the most up-to-date copy.

The city does have digital maps, Jaap said, but they “are not the most accurate and they lack several pieces of key information” like pipe sizing or material.

To update the maps, Colorado-based Northline will not only review and compile the city’s old hand-drawn maps and records but will also survey all the city’s water valves, manholes and other utility infrastructure.

Not just useful for city staff, the final map will also benefit future capital construction projects, private engineers, private contractors and more.

As development around Laramie continues, Mayor Joe Shumway expressed concern that the city would have to continually pay consultants to update the new maps.

Jaap said the hope right now is for staff to be able to update them as they go, especially since they won’t be dealing with the current backlog of information that the consultants have been hired to sift through.

Councilwoman Jessica Stalder expressed concern that the agreement contingency is almost 20% of the project’s total cost, asking if it was standard or if there were “factors that make it such a variable cost?”

Jaap said he requested the contingency after previous experience showed there are a lot of variables.

“We try to anticipate anything that may come up,” Jaap said. “However, with these types of projects, in past experience, there seems to be a lot of unknowns.”

The project is looking to be done by summer.

The city’s utility systems are constantly updating and changing. In the same meeting, the council also voted to approve a professional services agreement with Trihydro Corporation to design a new sanitary sewer line under Reynolds Street.

The council unanimously agreed to the $469,349 price tag for the design plus a $46,935 contingency on the project.

City Civil Engineer William Winkler told the council the current line on Reynolds Street, which services a large portion of the north side of Laramie, currently has “times where it does exceed the (Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality) recommendation.”

Concerns about the system’s bottleneck areas have also stalled development north of town, he said.

“This project, in particular, has been on the horizon for the city of Laramie and has been expedited due to these concerns at this time,” Winkler said.

The sewer line design will span from the city’s eastern boundary to Fourth Street, but Winkler said the line’s tie-in to Second Street will also be evaluated to ensure the city is properly accommodating the new growth.

“The expectation is that the improvements will be from Fourth Street to the east, but we will evaluate to make sure that we’re not being short-sighted by two blocks,” Winkler said.

The funds for the design will come out of the wastewater capital construction budget with the transfer of $86,284 from the wastewater reserves.

Services will not be interrupted during the construction of the new line, Winkler said.

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