If all goes according to schedule, the orange traffic cones will start appearing on Helper streets around April 1. The cones will be a familiar sight for the next three summers.
Mayor Dean Armstrong reported to the city council that the engineering work for Area One of the city's infrastructure reconstruction is complete. The plans have to be approved by the state's Division of Environmental Quality before work can begin.
Area One comprises the part of the city basically bounded by the railroad tracks on the east and US 6 on the west, except for Main Street. Work on Main Street, still a designated state highway, will have to be cleared by the Utah Department of Transportation. It will be the last of four areas to be rebuilt, set for 2015.
Meanwhile, work on the city's Spring Canyon springs is about done. Additional work on Helper's water supply springs near Fish Creek awaits approval by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The work in town will involve tearing up miles of streets to remove aging water and sewer lines and replace with brand-new, fully-compliant piping. Some parts of the city's underground systems are as much as 70 years old. Ceramic sewer lines still run nearby and parallel to cast-iron, lead-jointed water pipe.
The city will also be fixing its storm water drainage system.
Money for the project is coming mainly from a package of grant and loans from the state's Permanent Community Impact Board. The CIB last year approved more than $18 million in requested funding, divided roughly in thirds of grant, zero-interest and 2.5 percent interest loans.
Helper will pay back the principal and interest on the bonds with revenue from its water and sewer departments. It has increased rates to accommodate added costs.
Some of the long-term costs, however, are expected to be recouped by lower operating and maintenance expenses. Damage repair and street patching have been taking away big chunks of the city's maintenance budget.