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Helper to become doubly 'scenic' soon

Historic Main Street and its attractions are not visible from Highway 6, but the new Scenic Byway could publicize them.

Sun Advocate Reporter

Helper will soon have the rare distinction of being on two of the state's Scenic Byways.

It is already on the Dinosaur Diamond because it is on the route between Price and Vernal. Now it is in line to become part of the Energy Loop as well.

These byways are intended to increase tourism by making road trips more enjoyable. Each route has its own brochure and website highlighting places to visit, find meals and lodging, or learn about the history of a region. Pullouts with scenic views and interpretive displays allow drivers and passengers to make a leisurely trip instead of merely rushing from point A to point B.

The Energy Loop created 10 years ago runs through Huntington Canyon, across Skyline Drive, down Fairview Canyon, or down Eccles Canyon past the Skyline Mine, Scofield and Scofield Reservoir. It ends at junction with Highway 6 near Colton . According to Jana Abrams, the Loop's coordinator, the extension grew from the grass roots up to the state level.When the byway's steering committee held a series of town meetings at the gateway communities of Huntington, Fairview and Helper about a year ago, stretching the route to Helper seemed logical.

The local committee worked transportation consultants Fehr and Peers to draft the management plan. The state's Scenic Byways Committee approved the designation last month.

The Helper City Council unanimously agreed to it last Wednesday.

The draft plan includes issues and suggestions for improvement of the newly added routed.

One of the issues on the route extension is the hazardous access to Price Canyon Recreation area. The highway curves there, posing a problem of visibility and there are no acceleration or deceleration lanes for vehicles leaving or getting on the busy US 6. The management plan recommends a survey of accidents that have happened there. It also asks for a widening of the highway to accommodate access and exit lanes.

Moving on to Castle Gate, the plan notes that there is plenty of room at the pullout for a picnic area. The picnic tables and shelters could fit between the interpretive markers already at the site. It would also help to designate more clearly where cars should pull off and get back on the highway.

As for Helper City itself, there's the matter of invisibility. "There is little indication near the interchange that Helper's interesting downtown exists," the report states. A possible solution to that problem would be tourist-oriented direction signs (TODS) to identify local attractions and directions.

The River Parkway, Western Mining and Railroad Museum, Gigliotti Pond and City Park are candidates for byway marketing materials.

The draft plan also recommends publicizing a "ghost town tour" of Peerless, Standardville, Mutual and Consumers as a side trip for the loop.

Helper also has no designated camping area or RV park. If the city can identify one or more sites for camping, the the byway planners should work with the city to find funding for the improvements and assist with publicizing the availability of overnight camping.

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