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Motorists and pedestrians will be greeted with road improvements and landscaped plazas at the intersection of CY Avenue and Poplar Street by fall of 2013.

The Casper City Council on Thursday informally approved the design for plazas on the intersection’s southwest and northeast corners, where a vacant lot and minimal landscaping exist, respectively. The landscaping project will be included in Wyoming Department of Transportation road upgrades to begin in 2013.

“We’re basically reconstructing the entire intersection,” said Mark Ayen, construction engineer for WYDOT District 2. “With that, we’ll be replacing all the signals, replacing all the surfacing, reconfiguring some of the turning movements.”

Ayen said the changes are a result of a gradual increase in use but will also enhance safety at the intersection. The northeast corner will be adjusted to make the turn more gradual.

Dual turn lanes will be installed for the eastbound lanes of CY Avenue, turning north onto Poplar Street.

The contract will be put to bid this fall, and Ayen said construction is scheduled for Spring 2013. The roads will stay open, although lanes might be reduced during construction. The project is estimated at a little more than $3 million, which Ayen said comes from general federal and state highway funds.

Gary Clough, the city’s public services director, said the landscaping and plazas will cost about $207,000, with WYDOT providing $150,000 in state Transportation Enhancement Activities funds. The remaining $50,000 is expected to be funded by optional 1-cent sales tax money set aside for park improvements. The department worked on the project with Montana-based Peaks to Plains Design PC consultants, which suggested a southwestern plaza concept that represents the city.

“[We’re] excited about the concept, trying to bring in the river, and the mountain, railroad tracks and the downtown blocks,” Clough told the council.

The southwestern plaza will consist of a boulder wall to represent the mountain, blue horizontal junipers for the river, a center walk fashioned after the railroad and colored concrete modeled after city blocks. The northeast plaza will feature shade trees, concrete panels for displaying art and pergolas — latticed structures to be covered with vines.

“It’s a good idea,” Councilman Bill Brauer said. “I’m pleased with it.”

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Councilman Paul Bertoglio questioned whether pedestrians would use the plazas near a busy intersection and if added lawn care would be a burden. Clough said the area is in en route to other maintenance locations and benches in the area are currently used.

“It’s used, and we think this will probably be used more,” he said.

In response to concerns, Councilwoman Kim Holloway said she has heard from constituents, Clough said there is no plan to acquire property or widen Poplar Street south of CY Avenue.

The commission of artwork for the concrete walls wasn’t included in the cost estimate, and Clough said he plans to find an artist through a community contest.

“We’ll set down with Peaks to Plains in the next month or so and start talking about that and figure out who we want to work through with the city to help support us,” Clough said Friday.

The landscape designs will be submitted to WYDOT for final approval and await the start of reconstruction. Ayen said the entire project should be complete by fall of 2013.

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