DAYTON — The Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board expects its natural gas utility project to go to bid next week, it announced Thursday.
The TRVJPB — a partnership between Dayton, Ranchester and Sheridan County School District 1 — has been working since 2013 to build a natural gas pipeline that could supply communities in the Tongue River Valley. The project going to bid will be a major step toward realizing the board’s goal.
In planning the project, the board has secured commitments to connect to the pipeline from nearly 400 residences and more than 60 commercial properties in the Tongue River Valley.
The United States Department of Agriculture — which awarded a $4 million Rural Development Community Facilities loan to the effort — has approved sending the project to bid.
WWC Engineering Project Manager Jessica Dais said her firm has finished its final review of the project documents and plans to advertise the bid on Quest CDN — an online marketplace that connects solicitors and bidders for construction projects — Monday.
Dais said WWC has also secured construction staging areas for the project in Sheridan County, the town of Dayton and the town of Ranchester, and is in the process of securing the final private easement agreements with landowners whose properties the pipeline will have to pass through.
Once the project goes to bid, the TRVJPB plans to hold a pre-bid meeting with contractors on Oct. 3, during which contractors will have an opportunity to visit the proposed site of the pipeline.
The board will open bids during a meeting on Oct. 22, during which it will record amounts of the bids it receives, but will not take action.
The TRVJPB scheduled its next regular meeting for Oct. 24 Thursday, and it could vote to award the project to one of the bidders at that meeting.
Ranchester Mayor Peter Clark said he drafted a letter to seven Ranchester property owners who have made deposits with the TRVJPB informing them their properties will have to be temporarily removed from the pipeline project, as the board would have to get permits to run the line underneath railroad tracks to reach them.
Clark said he intends to find a solution to reach the properties and has given the property owners the option of either keeping their deposits with the TRVJPB, so they can be honored at a later date, or having their deposits refunded.
Clark suggested the board could explore applying for a Business Ready Community Grant from the Wyoming Business Council to extend the pipeline to those properties but noted the idea was preliminary.