The Utah Department of Transportation recently conducted a series of public meetings throughout Carbon County.
The meeting series was scheduled to conclude on Dec. 18 after UDOT presented the agency's U.S. Highway 6 construction plan to Helper residents.
On Dec. 10, representatives from UDOT were on hand at a regularly scheduled Wellington City Council meeting. Transportation authorities informed the public about upcoming construction projects as well as explained what the future may hold for the infamous highway.
During a brief presentation to the council, UDOT representatives along with highway consultants advised residents in attendance that construction will begin next year on several dangerous portions of U.S. 6. Most of the projects will affect local motorists traveling throughout the county.
According to UDOT representatives, the highway will undergo a face-lift as curves are straightened and two lanes increase to three or four lanes in several areas along the U.S. 6 corridor.
Although the improvements will take place over the next 20 to 25 years, transportation authorities assure Carbon residents that construction has begun and will continue each year until the project is complete.
Improvements are being prioritized according to safety. UDOT officials explained that the areas of the highway which are the most dangerous will be the first to be worked on and fixed. One such portion of highway is located between Price and Wellington where the construction process has already started. Here, crews will widen the entire stretch of roadway throughout Wellington and into Price. When complete, this section of the highway will be four lanes and include a center median.
During this process, the transportation department has vowed to minimize home and property destruction. Although avoiding all current structures is impossible, the department will do what it can to avoid relocating current residents.
Wellington residents questioned UDOT representatives about the current speed limit. Many feel that motorists should be required to slow down. They feel that more lanes will equal greater speed and therefore, more accidents.
Residents were advised that the speed limit will remain the same and that UDOT will continue to monitor the area and determine the average speed. This is done during peak traffic periods to get an accurate average advised UDOT representative, Myron Lee. Peak time according to Lee includes holidays and weekends.
The department informed residents that if studies indicate a need to lower the speed limit, the situation will be looked at closely.
During the public meeting, UDOT officials advised the public that they are considering dividing the portion of highway between Helper and Interstate 70. Because this improvement may become a reality, UDOT is seeking public opinion regarding the type of barrier that should be installed down the center of the highway.
There are currently three barrier options which Carbon residents may select. The first of which is a cable barrier which is similar to those located on Interstate 15 on Northern Utah. Officials explained that studies show that this tends to be the safest type of barrier currently available. The other two types are concrete or beam.
Currently, the divided highway idea is in the impact analysis mode and a final decision will be made by the end of next year. However, Carbon County residents may provide their input into the matter by filling out a questionnaire provided by UDOT.
Although the transportation department vows to improve the entire highway in the next 20 some years, there are plans to begin construction in troubled areas based on UDOT safety studies. This will begin next year and includes the following plans.
The first is widening the stretch of road between mileposts 195 and 197 near Sheep Creek. According to U.S. Highway 6 project manager, Mike Miles, this section of highway will become four lanes and may be completed next year.
Next is to install a passing lane between mileposts 226 and 228 in Price Canyon. The passing lane will be constructed on the eastbound lane.
The third is to fix the small bridge near the port of entry at Peerless. Miles explained that this bridge must undergo improvements prior to construction on the Helper interchange. This way, the bridge will serve commuters better and hold up during frequent traffic delays.
Next is the biggest and most expensive of the planned projects. The Helper interchange construction is scheduled to begin next spring.
UDOT also plans to construct an eastbound passing lane at Sunnyside Junction and also construct a two mile passing lane at Icelander Wash.
An overlay project will take place between mileposts 288 and 300.
Finally the department will also look to fix the intersection of where corridor of Highway 6 and Highway 10 come together. Although any solution they come up with may be temporary, UDOT officials realize that the worst problems could be fixed in a timely manner.