Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormon Trail included In National Trails Center, Construction Will Begin Next Month
(National Trails Center moves ahead despite cost overruns)
Billings MT Gazette (AP) 29Mar00 N6
CASPER, WYOMING -- The U.S. Government awarded the contract for
building the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center on Tuesday,
clearing the way for construction of the Casper, Wyoming building to
begin next month, according to U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin. The
center, built at the only place where the Oregon, Mormon, California
and Pony Express trails intersect, will provide a study center and
exhibition space for information on the trails, as well as provide
support for efforts to preserve and protect the trails.
However, the Center still faces financial difficulties, and already
faces projected cost overrruns. The low bid on constructing the
building was $6 million, $1 million more than expected. In addition,
an across-the-board reduction in spending on fiscal 2000 federal
construction projects of 7.5 percent further reduced the available
funds, bringing the estimated shortfall to $1,950,700.
The total cost of the center was originally expected to be $10
million. The federal government agreed to pay half that amount, and
the city of Casper also agreed to pay a portion, funded by a one-cent
local optional sales tax. Private interests have also contributed to
the project through the Trails Center Foundation. But the shortfall
now means that supporters must try to raise the additional funds.
"Needless to say I am disappointed about these developments," Cubin
said. "While this will not delay construction of the Trails Center,
it will necessitate efforts to acquire additional federal funds." The
Trails Center Foundation will make up the difference for now, and
raise additional funds later so that the expected exhibit and diorama
contracts can be paid. "I have written a letter to Interior
Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula requesting his
support in attaining the funds needed to meet the outstanding
balance," added Cubin.