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Front Page » June 6, 2006 » Local News » UDOT Addresses Latest Modification in Helper Interchange ...
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UDOT Addresses Latest Modification in Helper Interchange Project


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

When the Utah Department of Transportation builds a new highway structure, utility work is generally the first step in getting the project started.

But for the Helper interchange slated to begin construction later in the month, things will be a little different.

"We had a pre-construction meeting with the contractor (WW Clyde) and they told us that, as soon as they found out they had received the bid, they started to order the pipe for the relocation of the water lines," eplained Myron Lee, spokesman for UDOT's Region 4. "Unfortunately, because of a shortage of pipe, they will not be able to replace the Price city supply line that runs under the project until sometime late in the summer because the pipe is on backorder." The shortage of pipe brings another change to a project which has seen dozens of modifications since it was first proposed.

The latest glitch will change the order in which things are done, but Lee says the project will still get underway soon.

"We had a room of really smart people working on how we can get this project off the ground when one of the first things that must be done is to move utilities," said Lee. "They have come up with some ways to get around it and get going."

The project, which now appears to be in the $20 million range, began life years ago when major traffic accidents occurred at the juncton of U.S. Highway 6 and Helper Main Street.

But with the advent of a plan to make the highway a four land road from Spanish Fork to Green River, the plan took on even more urgency.

During the last two years UDOT has bid out the project three times. But until the last time, all of the bids submitted by contractors came in higher than the engineers's estimates and the money that was available for completion of the interchange project.

Each time, UDOT went to work with its engineering partner on the project and found ways to cut costs.

But cost cutting means a different project than originally envisioned.

And with the last go around, one of the things that fell off the board was a four-lane overpass.

"With having to keep the cost down, we decided to build a two lane overpass over Main Street," noted Lee. "It will have on and off ramps just like a four lane and the entire project will be set up so when we are ready to expand the road to the four lane alignment those will be added."

Currently, the road that comes into Helper from the north is two lanes. But the four lane road that comes from the south is reduced to two near the city limits. That four lane alignment stretches clear back to the Wellington City line.

"The project will still have the same footprint as the four lane option and it will provide safety because it will still be a grade separated crossing," said Lee. "The contractor expects to start the project within the month."

Lee noted that without the needed pipe the contractor and UDOT have come up with some of the aspects of the project hat can be done without replacing the waterline initially.

It appears that the work will begin on a box culvert that will need to be constructed and then the replacement of the sewer line that needs to be moved.

"Of course, the original design was to move the waterlines first, then the sewer line and then abandon the old lines," stated the department of transportation representative "But under the situation things will just have to be done a little differently."

Lee indicated that he thought things would still go well as the work then proceeded through the winter and into next year because UDOT has " a good contractor on board that will do all they can until the water line arrives."

In another piece of news from UDOT, a failing parapet wall on the bridge that crosses over the tracks near Skyview on Highway 6 will have to be repaired in the next two weeks, causing some delays in traffic.

"That bridge is scheduled to be replaced in the near future, but we can't wait to do this repair work to keep it in shape until that is done," explained Jeff Dupaix of UDOT Region 3 last Friday afternoon.

The bridge, located at milepost 200 is well know to most residents of eastern Utah. The work will take about two weeks to complete and was scheduled to begin on June 5.

"We hope delays will be minimal and during the week it probably will be," continued Dupaix, noting that as little as five minutes should be the average on weekdays. "On the weekend we will span with this project the delays could be much longer, maybe as much as 30 minutes."

UDOT will be using traffic lights to control the flow of vehicles across the bridge.

But there may be times when the bridge will have to be completely closed because of certain operations that must take place to finish the repairs, concluded UDOT officials.



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