City leaders say the plan to build the Cheyenne connector project in Pocatello is finally ready to go, after more than a decade of delays.
The train tracks split the city of Pocatello in two, and for those in the south-west part of town, getting past those tracks, along with the Portneuf River and the interstate, can mean it takes a long time to get just about anywhere.
“The south end of town is really under-served. There is just a lack of east-west mobility in the south end of town,” City Engineer Deirdre Castillo said.
The connector would go from south Fifth Avenue, under the interstate, over the tracks and river to Bannock Highway.
That plan has existed for a long time, but with environment assessments and land disputes, it has hit obstacle after obstacle.
“The need for the Cheyenne connector and the crossing has been evident for literally years,” City Councilman Jim Johnston said.
Castillo said there’s no question the process to get work started has been long in grueling, but now it’s ready to go. Funding seems to be figured out, and agreements are in place with landowners.
“I feel like I’ve run a marathon and not had a glass of water the entire distance, to tell you the truth. But yes, the end is in sight,” Castillo said.
Some final agreements accepted by the City Council should pave the way for work to get started in the spring.
Johnston said he thinks the route could breathe some new life into some neighborhoods in town and provide for economic growth.
“I believe that with this new change we could easily have new development coming to the south end of town — shopping, some new housing,” Johnston said.