- Associated Press - Friday, July 14, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - State lawmakers voiced concern about ongoing drainage problems at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins. But the official overseeing temporary repairs at the troubled facility assured them work is progressing, just more slowly than expected.

Lawmakers last year allocated $7 million for repairs while they try to figure out a long-term solution for the 16-year-old prison built on unstable soil.

Floors and walls have buckled and cracked. Full repairs would cost around $100 million while replacing the prison would cost $250 million to $300 million, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/2urL19M).

It’s unlikely the prison will become uninhabitable, project manager Ian Catellier told the state Building Commission on Wednesday. “There are no concerns about occupying the building,” he said.

Still, the ongoing drainage problem concerned Senate President Eli Bebout of Riverton, who asked Catellier what was being done to keep water out of the building.

“When I was there last time, you could see where water would run right into the building,” Bebout said. “We saw that last year, and you still have water up to the building?”

Soil conditions have led to areas that expand or contract when moisture is introduced, usually by rain and melting snow, Catellier said.

“I think you could say the soil conditions would be better if they were kept dry,” he said. “Moisture has a large effect on the particular soils in this area.”

Work to address the drainage issues has been done and more will take place before winter. Other work will have to wait until next year.

Gov. Matt Mead asked why some of the work was taking so long.

Public processes and precautionary measures to ensure the work was done correctly were likely to blame, Catellier said.

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com


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