The last phase of rebuilding West Yellowstone Highway, from downtown to South Poplar Street formally concluded with a ribbon-cutting at the new intersection Monday.

Mayor Daniel Sandoval said the street with its new blacktop, sidewalks and bike stands doesn't end the development, but it does create a new and attractive way to enter the heart of Casper.

"It has completed a significant milestone in completing this stretch of Old Yellowstone," he said after dedication ceremony.

"It actually creates an aesthetic entrance to downtown, and it's continuing the mission of the OYD (Old Yellowstone District)," he said.

Businesses will tend to cluster with other businesses, and people attract people, he said. "You essentially create a small district that's copacetic in attitude and commerce and purpose and it builds that community."

Debates on the role of government in economic development aside, most people agree governments are to provide essential services including infrastructure to create a coherent look, in this case to a city," Sandoval said. "It's good for aesthetics, but it's also good for development."

Besides the ribbon cutting, city workers erected a sign on the north side of the intersection welcoming people to the Old Yellowstone District.

The project started seven years ago, and received funding from a federal transportation grant advocated by former U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, a $1 million community enhancement grant from the Wyoming Business Council, and the city.

Former Mayor Paul Meyer owns Wyoming Automotive on West Yellowstone, and said the street has had a colorful and sometimes tawdry century-old history with the former Standard Oil/Amoco refinery west of Poplar Street, the railroads, the hobos, and businesses that catered to the best and worst in people.

And in case you haven't noticed, you should be aware that if you're driving west on West Yellowstone, the new intersection will direct you north on Poplar Street to West First Street.

In other words, you no longer can turn left and drive south on Poplar Street.

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media