Letter to the Editor: Look at the Helper project again
Interesting Helper interchange article in the Nov. 11 issue of the Sun Advocate whereby Myron Lee of the Utah Department of Transportation states: "One of our goals is to try and stitch Helper back together with this project and we intend to meet that aim."
Really, I have lived almost my entire life in Helper and have never known the community to be unstitched. Since U.S. Highway 6 was constructed in the 1970's several costly changes were made at the intersection with Helper's North Main Street to reduce the danger as fatalities occurred. Finally, the last, presently with the left turn lanes, has proven to be very effective.
The news article reports that submitted bids for the 1.1 mile project are $7 million more than the engineer's estimate. Mr. Lee states that UDOT has easy and hard projects to do. "We could avoid the hard ones and only go after the easy ones," the UDOT spokesman explains. May I suggest to his department that the $13 million proposed for the Helper interchange be directed to what is commonly known as the Red Narrows section of U.S. 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon. This would certainly qualify for one of the "hard ones" he refers to. Efforts to reduce the cost of the proposed Helper project can only mean further restrictions on Helper interests.
For a few thousand dollars traffic lights at the two Helper intersections with the highway would suffice. There are no less than three semaphore traffic lights on this same highway in Spanish Fork. The extended overpass project would negatively impact five viable businesses in Helper, one of which has already been taken out by purchase for right of way purposes. Talk about Helper becoming "unstitched".
The news articles states that there has been no organized opposition to the project. I have attended all the meetings the department has conducted for briefing local residents on the project. At none has the department asked for comments for an alternative in an open meeting. Comments were solicited, either written or recorded oral, to no avail by local residents. Some people have risen and made comments only to be referred to the drawings on display on what is planned to be done.
I challenge the department to schedule an open meeting for all citizens of Helper whereby opinions can be stressed in such an open meeting. I do not agree with the process of a select committee expressing the opinions of the entire community. If such a meeting is impractical, may I suggest a referendum among all citizens of the community regarding their feelings.