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Excavation cuts Helper access to Spring Glen

With the main lines in place under the street, workers connect individual homes via laterals along 300 West.

Sun Advocate associate editor

Excavation for the extensive rebuild of the water and sewer systems in Helper is cutting across Main Street at Maple Street, severing the link to the Spring Glen Highway at the south end of town.

While that may be merely an inconvenience to casual motorists, it is a matter for contingency planning for emergency services. Helper's fire and rescue services respond to distress calls in Spring Glen and Kenilworth.

With the direct link cut for about three weeks, it means fire trucks will have to go all the way to the Spring Glen intersection at the Carbon Country Club about three miles down Highway Six, explained Helper Public Works Director Gary Harwood.

Harwood, who is also a member of the city council, said emergency services in Price are aware of the situation. If necessary, Price will respond to medical or fire calls in that part of the unincorporated county.

Rescue and fire fighting vehicles in the torn-up section of the city will rely on police for guidance, he said.

As heavy equipment is turning streets into moonscapes as work advances, the work of connection and covering up is well under way where main lines have already been laid.

New lateral lines home connections are sprouting like green shoots from trenches in rights-of-way between houses.

Excavation work has also begun west of Highway 6 as well.

Meanwhile, as the upgrade continues, city crews are still working with the old problems that made water and sewer service so precarious over the decades.

Harwood said one culinary water line break on 100 West Street went undetected for days or longer. "It didn't break the surface, so we didn't know it was there," he said Tuesday. "So water was running out of the break right into the Price River. That was an expensive break," he said.

Helper had been spending anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars per week on repairs to the dilapidated water and sewer systems.

After a lengthy engineering study and planning process, the city presented a request for funding last year to the state's Permanent Community Impact Board. The board agreed to commit $7 million in an outright grant and more than $12 million in low-interest and zero-interest loans.

Helper has increased its utility rates to finance the loan payback.

The city-wide rebuild of water, sewer and storm drainage systems will take another two years to complete.

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