|Road bed excavation work is taking place on a daily basis along U.S. Highway 6 between Price and Wellington. Utah Department of Transportation representatives indicate that the highway improvements along the local stretch of U.S. 6 will be completed by spring 2005.|
A recent report published in an upstate newspaper raised concerns of not only local tourism people, but Utah Department of Transportation officials who scrambled to explain the story.
The newspaper article indicated that, with all the summer construction planned along the main highway from Spanish Fork to Green River, motorists could expect delays of up to two hours.
The report created concerns in eastern Utah about the possibility that many Wasatch Front residents who travel to and through Carbon County would go somewhere else or take a southern route along Interstate 70 to reach destinations.
Travelers deciding to bypass the county could be a blow to the local economy. Combined with steadily climbing gasoline prices, the situation could spell disaster for some businesses.
"They printed that, much to my chagrin," explained Myron Lee, public involvement coordinator for UDOT's region four. "Originally, when we began to evaluate all the projects that were going to go on in the U.S. 6 corridor and started to add up the delay times it looked intimidating. There were 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there and it did add up to over an hour. But then one project on the road got cancelled and the Helper interchange was postponed so the two times dropped."
"Our estimate right now is, even at the height of construction late this summer, total delays between all the projects should not exceed 40 minutes between Spanish Fork and Green River," pointed out the transportation department public involvement coordinator.
According to Lee, UDOT has not recommended that people traveling from Spanish Fork to Green River consider taking a different route.
Instead, the state transportation department officials are encouraging travelers to exercise caution and drive carefully when passing through the construction zones on U.S. 6.
"Every other possible detour people could take to avoid that road would take at least an hour and the delays our project will cause will be well below that," stated Lee. "But people will need to be careful. There will be a lot going on."
The major part of the construction work will take place between Spanish Fork and Wellington, where one of the projects has been underway for a year.
That project is the Price to Wellington section of the road, where crews are widening the road so it can expand to two lanes each way.
"Right now that work is on schedule and within budget," explained Lee. "Crews are presently putting in culverts and excavating the sides of the road for a new roadway bed. Right now there is not much delay in the area, but the speed limit has been lowered and there are a few flagmen in place for truck crossings. Those delays may increase a little as the summer goes on, but not by much. The project is scheduled to be completely finished in spring 2005."
Helper was to have experienced major work this summer because of the interchange project, but a low bid of $6 million over the engineers estimated cost, created a situation for UDOT in which it had to be postponed for further study. That doesn't mean that the Helper area will not be facing some construction this year though.
"Another project that will be begin in early July is rehabilitating the bridge near the Peerless Port of Entry," explained Lee. "That project will require the road to be reduced to one lane at a time with people taking turns crossing the usable portion of the bridge. We will be using flagmen and lights to regulate the traffic. We are going to do half the bridge at a time. That project will end in early September."
The stretch of canyon road to Spanish Fork will have a couple of paving projects going on as well.
The first will be a pavement rehabilitation project that will take place between milepost 221 and milepost 231. It will include an overlay and a chip and seal. Pavement rehabilitaion will starte about the middle of July and work will continue into the late summer.
The other project will take place between milepost 226 and milepost 228, where UDOT will add a downhill passing lane at a cost of $3.5 million.
The passing lane project is also scheduled to begin in the middle of the summer and be finished sometime in September.
Two other projects will affect people driving south from Carbon County toward Green River. The first is a passing lane south of Sunnyside Junction from milepost 259 to milepost 262. The project will start in July.
The other is a project much closer to Green River between mileposts 288-300.
"That project has not started and the bid was just awarded," states Lee. "We still need to do a pre-construction meeting. It will be a hot in place rotomill project, something new for us."
Lee explained that the state transportation department has used cold mix rotomill processes before. But in the process in question, hot oil will be added to the recycled material and laid back down on the roadway. The project is slated to start late in the summer.
"The delays in the traffic will eventually build up," said Lee. "In June one can expect a 5-10 minute delay. In mid July the delay will be between 10-20 minutes. In August and September the delays will be about 40 minutes if someone drives the entire route."
Lee indicated that the delay for Carbon County residents traveling to the Wasatch Front in the later summer will be about 20 minutes.