BY SARA SCOTT
Los Alamos County Council Chair
Editor’s note: Outgoing Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott has released her State of the County Annual Report for 2020 which is published in its entirety below.
In January 2020, the Los Alamos County Council identified seven strategic priorities; these were subsequently adopted on February 4, 2020 as outlined in the County’s 2020 Strategic Leadership Plan. These priorities address issues important to the community that the Council agrees to focus and make progress on in the coming year; they represent multiyear challenges that require cross-cutting engagement and support. Additionally, progress in these areas will help enable the broader set of County investments, initiatives, and day-to-day operations currently underway.
For each of these priorities, concrete actions were identified and implemented. This report provides high-level (not comprehensive) examples of progress in these areas and a starting point for identification of needed focus areas for the coming year, pending broader discussion between the community, County staff, and Council.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community and the state have been and will continue to be significant, as they are nationally and globally. Highlights of the County’s response are also provided in the following section of this report; updates regarding the strategic priorities follow.
• Response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the community can be considered in four areas: County operations, engagement and coordination, identification of new needs, and communication.
County Operations. Agile and continual modification of County operations, facilities, and programs have been required since March. Immediately, the County Manager and the Department of Public Utilities manager took action to assure effective continuity of essential services in the context of a stay at home public health order. The Emergency Manager developed a Pandemic Response addendum to the County’s Emergency Response Plan which was approved by Council. Subsequently a vaccine and treatment Point of Distribution Plan was added to the plan. Vaccination of health care workers and fire fighters (because of their Emergency Medical Technician role) began in December through the Los Alamos Medical Center and the Public Health Office.
A COVID-19 button was added to the County website to provide links to critical state and national information and to collect and make available local information and public communication and announcements. To enable future requests for state or federal relief funds, an emergency declaration was signed. The proactive efforts of County staff and community partners in developing a proposal for the County to receive Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds being disbursed to counties and municipalities around New Mexico by the State, resulted in the award of more than $1,700,000 to be used for grants to our local businesses and individuals in need. A proposal and disbursement process was quickly set up and resulted in initial disbursement of funds within 4 weeks of applications being received.
Engagement and Coordination. While this report focuses on County efforts, it is important to note that there has been outstanding community self-organization and coordination in response to the pandemic. Making and provision of masks, support for the homebound, donations to those in need, and an outpouring of support for our local businesses resulted. The County staff and Council continue to be in regular and direct communication at multiple levels with the Los Alamos Medical Center, Los Alamos National Laboratory, state legislative representatives, and the state emergency management framework. The County also was invited to represent the community’s interest and provide input and feedback to the Governor’s office regarding pandemic management and reopening planning through participation on the Mayor’s Council (a subset of Mayors from around the state).
Identification of New Needs. During the budget hearings 1.5M$ was allocated for COVID 19 support and recovery; some funds were spent to allow for outside and distanced learning sessions by purchasing shade structures for each of the Los Alamos Public School buildings as well as remote learning software systems. As the pandemic evolves, it is anticipated that other needs and opportunities for the use of these funds will be identified.
A Council COVID subcommittee was formed to work across multiple areas including support for making Personal Protective Equipment available for those in need, finding ways to support local businesses, identifying emerging social service needs, and looking at new ways to get the word out to the community about key public health measures and available assistance and support. The committee promoted facilitating options for outside seating at restaurants, implementing mechanisms to make it easier to donate to the Utilities Assistance Program, and an approach that allowed Aspen Ridge residents an opportunity for reserved La Mesa trail use while still isolating from others.
The Emergency Manager worked with the New Mexico Department of Health to hold pop-up COVID-19 testing at Overlook Park in April; this was the first COVID-19 testing in Los Alamos County. A subsequent event was held in December at Fuller Lodge. The Public Health Office, reopened as a result of County and State investments in 2019, continues to provide a critical service to the community by giving tests to any resident that wants one.
Communication. The importance of identifying new ways of getting the word out regarding critical public health practices, infection and testing data for the County, available services and support, and where to volunteer was recognized. The County’s Public Information Officer led an effort to identify and implement new communication tools including bright pink yard signs and flyers to every home in Los Alamos and White Rock. The County website was configured to that a COVID-19 alert popped up automatically on the home page with a link to key national, state and local information regarding the pandemic.
More than a hundred updates have been provided to the community through formal press releases, Councilor letters to the community, discussions and comments at Council meetings, and presentations to local community organizations. A new approach to public service announcements will be rolled out in January 2021. This effort will engage a cross section of community members to help get the word out regarding the importance of a continued and strong focus on COVID-Safe practices even as vaccination efforts commence. Impacts of continuing to stay at home, frequent handwashing, mask wearing, and avoiding gatherings on expediting better community health, reopening of schools, additional activities, and increased options for business operations will be included as important elements of the messaging.
• Increasing the amount and types of housing options. This includes a variety of housing options for all segments of the community, from affordable, entry level, and live-work housing to new options for those interested in downsizing or moving closer to central areas of the community.
Information provided by the first independent Housing Market Needs Analysis for the County (completed December 2019) estimated the immediate need for 1,310 units of rental housing and 379 units for homeownership including a particularly acute shortage of housing for middle- and lower-income households. This immediate need identified in the Market Needs Analysis is in addition to approximately 600 units currently under development; these includes affordable housing, market rate apartments, townhomes and unattached homes.
While there have been some impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, progress on most projects continues at the anticipated pace. Highlights include:
o Mirador Subdivision in White Rock. An additional 32 permits were issued for homes (of a total of 161 anticipated) in 2020, on top of the 21 already constructed and occupied previously. Additionally, our Planning and Zoning Commission has approved the site plan for an adjacent mixed-use development (57 apartments and 1100 square feet of commercial use space). An application for a permit to construct this project is anticipated in the first quarter of 2021.
o The Flats at Oppenheimer and Trinity. Completed in 2020, 16 units. o The Bluffs and Canyon Walk on DP Road. Both are affordable housing developments; the Canyon Walk apartments (70 units) are under construction and the site is being cleared for The Bluffs, a senior housing rental development of 54 units. Expected completion date for the Canyon Walk apartments is April 2021. Construction documents have been submitted for the Bluffs project, with an expected completion date of early 2022.
o Arkansas Place. Located at the old Black Hole property, construction of the infrastructure and utilities for 44 new market rate townhomes is in progress.
o The Hill Apartments. On 35th Street (at the old Los Alamos Site Office site) east of the hospital 149 market rate apartments, construction slated to begin in spring 2021.
o 3500 and 2201 Trinity. Properties have been purchased; redevelopment for mixed-used is being discussed for both sites.
o Ponderosa Estates Subdivision. This project is for 49 single family homes; the site plan for this project was approved in November of 2020.
o Former Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Service Site. This Canyon Road property (east of the Los Alamos Jewish Center) has been purchased and a site plan and building design is in development for approximately 140 units. Site plan is expected in early 2021.
o Mesa Townhomes Senior Housing. Twelve units for-sale to those 55 and older will be built on the empty lot next to Aspen Ridge; a development agreement planned for County Council for consideration early 2021.
o Infill – approximately 12 houses/apartments throughout the County. The number of available vacant, privately-owned parcels continues to diminish due to overall demand for housing.
The Market Needs Analysis is being used to inform additional possible housing development in the County.
o The Los Alamos Public Schools and the County continued public engagement to highlight important elements of a desirable workforce housing development that would also provide a revenue stream for the Public Schools on their North Mesa property. This culminated in the Schools and the County signing a Memorandum of Agreement authorizing the County to spend up to $475,000 from a State capital improvement grant to produce, while integrating public input, a detailed conceptual site plan and financial feasibility analysis for achieving both of these goals.
o The Hilltop House property was purchased by a private party; demolition and re use for a residential redevelopment is planned.
o The Mari Mac Village Shopping Center property is under contract to a private party; currently in the due diligence stage of the process, the developer has stated an interest in a mixed-use development that incorporates both residential and business use).
• Enhancing support and opportunities for the local business environment. This includes appropriate support for existing businesses, growing new businesses, and supporting technology start-ups and spin-offs.
As a result of the County staff and community partners’ proactive and effective efforts, the Los Alamos proposal for federal CARES Act funds made available by the State to counties and municipalities around New Mexico, resulted in receipt of more than $1,700,000 in grants to our local businesses ($1,551,000) and individuals ($169,000) in need. The process, including the call for and review of applications was set up quickly and initial disbursements were made within four weeks of a funding allocation in October.
To make property transferred from National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to the County available for businesses (approximately 10 new lots on DP road) and to address needed infrastructure upgrades for existing businesses, funding for a complete update of roadway and utilities (electric, gas, water, and sewer) was approved as a part of the FY2021 budget process. Planning and engineering design work will be initiated in 2021 with construction planned for 2022. The utilities and roadway improvements for this phase of the DP Road project will begin at the fire tower and continue all the way to the end of the public right of way at the entrance to TA-21. In parallel, the County is working with the Department of Energy (DOE)/NNSA to maintain their focus on completing assessments and any needed cleanup of middle DP road parcels in a safe and timely manner.
Additionally, an ordinance was introduced to sell two lots on Trinity Drive to a local business, Pet Pangea. A purchase agreement for the CB Fox and Reel Deal properties was approved (with a 90-day due diligence period) to evaluate how and at what cost these properties could help support existing and/or grow more restaurants, amenities, businesses and housing options as a part of downtown redevelopment. Businesses have stated that being able to purchase rather than rent property would increase their sustainability, but the County has very little land available – and none currently available for purchase by our smaller businesses (or perhaps even new businesses) in our downtown areas.
A Downtown Master Planning effort for both White Rock and Los Alamos was initiated in June with broad community outreach and engagement; there has been significant commercial development interest so there is an expectation that commercial and housing development will be taking place in our downtown areas. The Downtown Master Plan will take advantage of an opportunity to make sure these areas are developed in a smart and responsible way that makes the County an even more attractive place to live and work. It will focus on our community’s needs including considering new options for mobility, transportation, and parking in the context of a County-wide initiative to develop an updated and integrated trail and transportation strategy.
An update and reconfiguration of the County development code which governs commercial, residential and mixed-use development and redevelopment will be one result of the Downtown Master Planning process. The code update will help the community achieve its downtown goals and be easier to use and understand. A potential update to the county’s outdoor lighting ordinance to incorporate guidance provided under a Dark Skies initiative is anticipated as part of these efforts. Discussions are also underway regarding the County’s code pertaining to short term rentals and whether changes will be needed to remain compliant with State Code for these types of properties.
Building permitting staff has continued to simplify permit requirements and to improve the overall development and building code processes to make them easier to use. Since 2016, the County has implemented 58 new processes and policies to streamline these procedures. For example, staff will now accept certain types of reinspections to be done remotely over video chat in order to expedite the inspection process and to allow for less physical contact on the worksite. A mechanism for rapid permitting of outdoor space use (e.g. to enable outdoor dining) was implemented in March to support businesses during the pandemic. Due to a positive response to these efforts, the County anticipates broader interest in outdoor dining opportunities in the future and will make permanent changes to the code as needed.
Permit issuance for both commercial and residential activities continued at a robust pace in 2020; even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on operations, staff continued provision of service at normal levels, remotely as available and using the on line permitting systems. Through November 2020, 939 building permits were issued, with 528 of these permits submitted using the Citizen Self-Service portal; for approximately 99% of residential permits the turnaround was three days, for commercial permits five days. Additionally, the Community Development Department renewed its accreditation with the International Code Council, following an audit and independent review of internal processes and procedures; the department remains the first and only accredited building permit organization in the state of New Mexico.
In addition to reviewing and issuing permits, staff (utilizing COVID safe practices), maintained normal building inspection service levels during a strong building year in the County. Implementation of virtual meetings with the Planning and Zoning Commission to enable consideration of new development applications, helped promote continued progress, for example:
o Natural Grocers. Opened for business in November.
o Charley’s Landscaping. Opened this summer.
o Anytime Fitness. Opened in January.
o Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Planning and Zoning Commission hearing scheduled for January 13, 2021.
o Los Alamos Public Schools Credit Union. Site plan approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, permit issued, and building now under construction with a planned opening date of May 2021.
o Flex Laboratory at the Research Park. The site plan for this Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation project that includes approximately 83,000 square feet of office and laboratory space was approved; building permit application in preparation but this project is currently on hold.
o Demolition of portions of the Longview property in White Rock. Completed in 2019; will facilitate identification of redevelopment opportunities.
• Addressing long-term building vacancies in key areas of our community. Land availability in Los Alamos County, and in particular in the downtown areas, is limited and there is a desire to work towards better utilization, opportunities for new businesses, and improved aesthetics.
As noted in the housing section, construction of market rate townhomes at the former Black Hole property is in progress. Additionally, the Hilltop House property was purchased by a private party and re-use for a residential redevelopment is planned and the Mari Mac Village Shopping Center property is under contract to a private party with a stated an interest in a mixed-use development that incorporates both residential and business use.
County staff researched the potential for a vacancy tax or vacancy fee and determined that such a tax or fee was neither a viable nor practical option in New Mexico given the limitations placed on our local taxing authority as well as the practicalities and costs associated with actually imposing, enforcing, and collecting such a tax or fee. Other potential mechanisms for addressing this issue will continue to be explored and considered.
• Protecting and maintaining our open spaces, recreational, and cultural amenities. Los Alamos County open spaces and cultural attractions are greatly valued by the community and provide opportunities for recreational and economic growth; appropriately allocating resources to ensure their health and sustainability is important to our citizens.
Budget for a new park maintenance crew to focus on White Rock amenities was approved and hired. A dedicated trails management specialist was hired to enhance maintenance of over 100 miles of Los Alamos County trails and operating equipment to support these efforts budgeted and purchased (including a Bobcat E50 compact trail excavator which was used for most of the projects listed below). Results include:
o Woodland Trail Improvement. Nine loads of dirt were hauled into the Woodland Trail to bring the trail tread back to a sustainable grade. Water bars were installed to help divert water and prevent further erosion. The area was reclaimed, and native speed was spread in the disturbed area.
o Erosion Control. Seven water bars were installed in Walnut Canyon and Deer Trap Mesa to help control erosion and prevent the trail from deteriorating from urban runoff.
o Bridge Rebuild Project. Six bridges spanning from 16’ to 10’ were rebuilt to provide trail users a safe and enjoyable experience.
o Siberian Elm Tree removal. Over 200 Siberian Elm trees were removed from the Homestead Crossing, Woodland, Dot Grant and Canyon Rim trails to improve the health of the forest and to stop the spread of these highly invasive trees.
o Quemazon Trailhead Improvements. The improvements consisted of installing five water bars above the trailhead to help with erosion problems, removal of tree stumps, leveling of the parking area and applying processed road material to the parking area. This allowed us to add four more parking spaces to the trailhead.
o Pine Street Trailhead-Trash removal. Removed five truckloads of illegally dumped trash and yard material. The E50 was used to expedite the cleanup.
o Deer Trap Mesa Trailhead Clean Up. Removed illegally dumped gravel and removed broken sidewalk from the trailhead area. Improved drainage to prevent erosion along the Deer Trap Mesa trail.
o Canyon Rim Trail and LA Mesa Trail Bi-Weekly Maintenance. Open Space staff uses the ATV and a pull behind blower to keep the paved trails clear of debris. A new ATV has been utilized this winter to plow the paved trails and trailheads. Staff has purchased implements for the ATV that allows for additional use this winter to plow snow on the paved trails and trailheads.
o Trail Maintenance and Tree Removal. A quarter mile of trail maintenance was performed on Pueblo Canyon Rim and Water bar trail, edge work and tread. Over two dozen fallen trees have been removed from the trail system.
Projects to improve or construct multiple recreational amenities continued even with the challenges of the pandemic. These include golf course improvements, ice rink addition and renovation, and updated community wayfinding signage. Specific highlights include:
o Ice Rink Improvements. Substantive improvements and expansion of the locker room/restroom facilities completed November 2020.
o Pinon Park Splash Pad. Substantially completed October 2020 with a fun, multi colored design safety coating on the concrete surface to be installed before Spring 2021, weather permitting.
o Golf Course Irrigation Replacement. Substantially complete November 30, 2020. o Golf Course Site Development Improvements and Amenities. The contract for the design effort is signed and work has started. Improvements include safety netting for the driving range and Hole 2, rehabilitation of greens, sand bunker rehabilitation and drainage, tee-box rehabilitation and orientation, renovation of the Hole 13 restroom, and four weather shelters. Work is scheduled to be completed by Spring of 2021.
o Multigenerational/Kiddie Pool Addition. This is a new building addition to the Larry Walkup Aquatic Center including a zero-entry pool, lazy river, spray features, and a slide. The construction contract award was approved by Council in December 2020 and construction will be initiated by February 2021 and will continue through the end of 2021/early 2022.
o BMX Track. Initial preparatory work has been accomplished with staging of dirt for the track. The Procurement method and process is being finalized with goals for this to be out for proposals in the first quarter of calendar year 2021.
Progress on the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Dormitory on 17th Street (purchased by the County both to preserve this historic World War II building and help create new opportunities for insights into the Manhattan Project) includes work to clear overgrowth on the exterior of the building. Future landscaping will be discussed as part of the renovations of the WAC building A request for proposals will be issued in early 2021 to investigate application for historic status for the building and perform outreach to public and stakeholders. Community outreach and engagement will help the County determine how best to restore and utilize this building, for example, as a part of a Los Alamos historic walking tour.
The County initiated development of an updated and integrated trail and transportation strategy. This will include working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and their trails planning efforts as well as identifying key links with regional transportation to/from surrounding communities. Ongoing communications slowed in 2020 but are anticipated to pick up again post-pandemic in 2021 to coordinate these trail design initiatives started. Additionally, conversations and studies have been initiated between Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico Department of Transportation, and North Central Regional Transit District about enhancing and expanding regional transit service.
NNSA provided approval for use of Los Alamos Canyon for special outdoor events. This agreement was in response to the County’s request for a Special Use permit to provide access for recreational (hiking and biking) and tourism purposes (e.g. historic sites in support of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park). This type of permit is consistent with NNSA’s goal of improving the quality of life for its employees while also assisting the community with economic development opportunities. As ongoing remediation efforts are completed in the canyon, broader regular access will be pursued.
• Supporting social services improvement. Behavioral, mental and physical health and social services are important quality of life components; there are key areas where appropriate types and levels of county support could help address current needs.
A new Obstetrics and Gynecology physician started practicing at the Los Alamos Medical Center in October; the hospital has also hired two Obstetrics and Gynecology nurses and a part time nurse with 20 years of experience in special care nurseries. As of early December, there have already been three births at the Medical Center. This was the culmination of Council, working in partnership with state legislative representation, Los Alamos National Laboratory staff, County Health Council, and Los Alamos Medical Center leadership to emphasize the critical importance of a local obstetric and gynecological capability while constructively identifying options for reestablishment and long-term viability of these services.
To continue provision of behavioral, mental and physical health and social services that are important quality of life components, contracts for programs including the operation of Senior Centers, Youth Activity Centers, Family Resources, Support, and Parent Education services and Indigent Health Care for the detention center were updated and executed. In addition, planning for a youth services gap analysis was initiated to develop a holistic and strategic look across all youth services and facilities. The gap analysis will help identify evolving core needs in the community, gaps (or any duplication) in current services, and opportunities for coordination or collaboration that could result in better delivery of services to the community, support to the provider organizations, and increased efficiency to maximize the impact of the County’s funding. These programs now total about 2.5-3.5M$/year.
With funding approved for investigation and conceptual design of a Tween Center (grades 6-8), that complements the Teen Center and Youth Activity Centers by providing a safe place for this age group to enjoy activities and programming, efforts focused on development of a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP will be issued in January/February 2021 for evaluation of site locations and to further develop a building program and costs for this Tween Center. The preferred location is close to the downtown amenities and similar to the Teen Center programs, but additional outreach to the community’s youth is needed to move the project consideration forward in 2021.
County services will benefit from the completion of a robust 2020 Census effort; the County receives significant federal grant support, especially for our social programs, based on Census data. Moving deadlines and agile strategies were required to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic; nevertheless, Los Alamos County self-response rates increased from 77.5% (2010) to 83.8%. With Census Bureau Non-Response follow up, the County and State were determined to be counted at a 99.9% level. The County benefited from active volunteers, including the Los Alamos Local Complete Count Committee, who worked to ensure an accurate and complete count.
Members of a new advisory County Health Council, chartered at the end of 2019, were appointed by Council. The goal of this new structure is to improve efficiencies in tracking funding and applying for grants and to continue to give the Council needed insight into initiatives that will continue to help improving social services.
• Investing in infrastructure. Appropriately balancing maintenance of existing infrastructure with new investments in county utilities, roads, facilities and amenities will help improve environmental stewardship, sustainability, and quality of life.
During the budget process, it was agreed that 24% of the FY2021 General Fund expenditures will be spent on maintenance and capital replacements to address needed infrastructure stability. This augments the significant number of infrastructure items that are not paid for through the General Fund (for example, more than $12.2M for roads and trails, approximately $3.9M in infrastructure-related Capital Improvement Projects, and $26.6M in utility infrastructure investments that are funded through each of the four utility funds). The approved FY21 budget reflected a conservative approach to expenditures and includes an unspent balance of 2.2M and reserves of 26.7M, 31% of the most recent annual budget.
An ordinance to make more funds available for utility infrastructure needs was passed by Council. For the next three years, Council directed these funds to be reinvested to accelerate critical upgrades to water line infrastructure by increasing investment by approximately $820,000 per year. The planned projects are relining a water supply line along Pajarito Road and installing a replacement water supply line along New Mexico State Route 4; this will increase reliability and prevent the need to respond to major leaks that these lines currently experience.
Continued County participation in the next phase of development of the Carbon Free Power Project was approved; the County’s investment is capped at $1.26 Million for a 6.37 Mega Watt subscription. The project is due to be completed in 2030; 6.37 Mega Watts (at a 2020 levelized cost of 55$/Mega Watt Hour) is projected to supply about a third of the County’s electric power needs and, in combination with other investments/contracts, will support achieving the 2040 Electric Production Carbon Neutral goal. This year, the project’s reactor received Nuclear Regulatory Commission Design Certification and DOE issued a ten-year $1.355 Billion grant agreement to support the project.
Road improvement projects did not slow down and continued as planned in 2020 with the Camino Encantado area of Barranca Mesa road reconstruction project completed in November 2020. Design and construction of a North Mesa road improvement project (Tsankawi Street, Capulin Road, Alamo Road area) and Sherwood Boulevard drainage and road improvements (Grand Canyon Drive to Aztec Avenue) are planned for the summer of 2021 with design already underway.
Facility improvement projects in 2020 included modifications for COVID-safe operations including plexiglass partitions at customer service counters, changing mechanical system air filters more often, installation of hand sanitizing stations and bottle filling stations in lieu of drinking fountains, and foot pedals to open doors where feasible. The reduced building occupancies has allowed for additional floor work such as partial carpet replacement at Mesa Public Library and refinishing the wood floors at the Golf Course Community Room.
New Mexico State Road 502/ Trinity roadway and utility upgrades were accomplished through a cooperative agreement with New Mexico Department of Transportation and are almost completed with some paving, landscaping and touch-up work remaining. While on the surface this appears to be a transportation project, the project also upgraded all utilities within the corridor – some of the infrastructure replaced dated from 1945. Utility improvements include new waterlines, new low- and high-pressure gas lines, underground electric and new sewer crossings. Road improvements include new drainage systems, continuous sidewalks on both sides of the street, additional lanes for increased road capacity. Safety improvements include realigned Canyon Road intersection, roundabout, shoulders, pedestrian crossings, and lighting. This project will allow better flow of traffic into the downtown and the utility improvements have increased our capacity to better serve our Main Street businesses with safe and reliable utility services.
Operational sustainability opportunities continue to be pursued and implemented including a street light replacement program where each year a portion of the community’s older high-pressure sodium streetlights are being replaced with new LED technology – reducing energy use and improved ability to adjust light levels and direction, collaboration with the Environmental Sustainability Board and Zero Waste Team in seeking additional grant funding to make the purchase of bear resistant refuse roll carts more affordable for residents, and initiating a food waste composting program feasibility study in 2021.
A DocuSign system was procured and will be launched in January 2021. This will improve turnaround times, improve completion rate, improve customer experience, reduce printing costs and shipping costs, reduce error rates, reduce time sending, tracking, correcting and processing all aspects of workflow for County staff, customers, vendors, and contractors.
• Expand transportation and mobility options and address parking challenges. Work with regional partners and the Laboratory to consider holistic solutions for the needs and challenges facing Los Alamos and White Rock in the context of expanded housing and employment in the County and the desire to create a walk-, ride-, and environmentally friendly community.
The County has pushed hard for the project to widen and improve the Truck Route and New Mexico State Road 4 intersection. This project will add capacity and help reduce traffic congestion. Additionally, the project will provide better access into Tsankawi (of Bandelier National Monument) with a future parking lot off the highway to further improve safety at this intersection. The required National Environmental Policy Act Environmental Assessment has been approved and construction is planned for summer 2021. A project to improve the safety of New Mexico State Road 4 between the intersection and White Rock, by adding shoulders to both sides of the road, is planned to start between 2022-23.
The County continues to collaborate on and fund projects that improve vehicle traffic flows as well as pedestrian and bicycle connections and safety.
o Trinity Drive Pedestrian and ADA Improvements. Project is in-progress improving and repairing the sidewalks and curbs along Trinity Drive between Diamond Drive and Oppenheimer Drive – scheduled to complete this Winter/Spring 2021, weather permitting, and funded with a $250,000 State grant. Phase II of the improvements, Oppenheimer Drive to 15th Street, is anticipated to be funded for 2023/2024 construction.
o Trinity Drive Road Diet. The New Mexico Department of Transportation funded and managed a project completed the summer of 2020 that repaved Trinity Drive and reduced the number of vehicle lanes between Diamond Drove and Oppenheimer Drive to one lane in each direction – making room for new, dedicated bicycle lanes. The new road configuration improves bicycle and pedestrian safety as well as improves vehicle traffic flow by use of a center turning lane for left-hand turns without disrupting the travel lanes.
o Canyon Trail Underpass. Bids for construction of a tunnel underneath New Mexico State Road 502 connecting the eastern Canyon Rim Trailhead to the Entrada were received after a second bidding attempt at the end of November 2020. Funding agreements between the New Mexico Department of Transportation and County have been executed and Council will consider the approval of a construction contract in January 2021 for a Spring/Summer 2021 construction timeframe.
o Urban Trail Corridor. Both phases of this multiuse path have been federally funded. Phase I will connect to the Canyon Rim Trail at 20th Street and proceed through the Fuller Lodge lawn to Spruce Street. Phase II will pass through forested undeveloped landscape surrounding the Canyon Road tennis courts and terminate at the Aquatic and Nature Centers. New Mexico Department of Transportation and environmental/cultural approvals, engineering design will occur in 2021 with construction activities between 2022 and 2024.
During the January 2021 County Council strategic planning session, the status of the identified 7 strategic priorities will be reviewed, taking into consideration the progress described in this report. Discussions will include determination of whether these priorities are still the most important ones for the community, identification of new high-level actions that are needed to continue progress on the priorities, and whether additional priorities are needed.
The results of the discussions will be incorporated into the 2021 Strategic Leadership Plan and used to maintain focus on issues important to the community and help enable multiple other ongoing initiatives important to the future of our community.