Transportation Inundation: May 9, 2021

Los Alamos County Transportation Board

Seems like everywhere you look there’s some road work. But it turns out that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as we learned at last Thursday’s Transportation Board meeting. It’s normal for projects to pick up when winter starts to fade away, but this year is special for a lot of reasons, including the slow return to some semblance of normality as COVID-19 is hopefully winding down.

Take the airport, for example. There’s roofing going on, work on the fuel farm, and a new manger: Geoff Rodgers, a former County Council Chair and  Classic Air Medical helicopter pilot. Once the facilities have been whipped back into shape he should be holding normal office hours five days a week, hopefully starting in June.

Everyone’s seen the continued work on the roundabout and entrance to downtown. The good news is it might actually get done before too much longer. There may be some minor cleanup and touchup, but things should wind down quickly. After some complaints about the brightness of the new street lights, County staff measured and reduced the lighting level. Approval of any further light reduction will have to come from the state level.

Most people have noticed the startup of the underpass out near the end of the Canyon Rim Trail. That will be continuing for some months. Crack filling and patching are in full swing also.

Work has started on a road and utilities repair project in the Alamo Road area on North Mesa, which should forestall further emergency repairs once completed. At the public hearing there was an understanding that it would lead to the usual inconvenience now and then, but there was plenty of enthusiasm nevertheless.

Not so obvious are the projects about to start, or at least in the full-blown planning stages. After years of accumulated flood damage, Sherwood Avenue is getting underground storm drains. Not only should this prevent further road, sidewalk and gutter deterioration, but it will also make driving safer when the rains are heavy. A public hearing was held at the Transportation Board with general approval from those in attendance, especially after the details were explained. Locals will also be pleased to hear the collapsed corner of Sherwood at Piedra Loop will be getting completely repaired, and Sherwood may also get a full resurfacing.

And of course, a normal transit schedule is starting up again.

The Truck Route/State Road 4 intersection appears to be approaching the start of the bidding process. Widening of NM 4 between the Truck Route and White Rock is moving into the engineering stage, and may actually happen in the not-too-distant future. This will be a particular boon to bicyclists who currently have no reasonable safe route from White Rock to The Hill. And after the recent truck vs bicycle accident on State Road 4, there have also been conversations between the county and state about continuing the work.

Public comment from Ed Birnbaum led to some discussion of stretches of neglected road margins — the areas between the curb and sidewalk — on some of the main roads. In particular he liked the faux brick concrete work being done as part of the roundabout project. County representatives were receptive to his point.

There’s also a growing interest in cooperation among county boards and commissions, as indicated by Georgia Strickfaden taking over as liaison to the Tourism Task Force. The LARES Task Force is also interested in exchanging liaisons and working to expand the scope of the Transit Plan, with Katie Leonard and Roy Michelotti representing at the last meeting.

Speaking of the people involved, there are three openings on the Transportation Board. Though members can come from anywhere in the county, there is currently no representation for Barranca Mesa, North Mesa, Eastern or Western Areas or Downtown. Currently there is room for members registered in any political party.

Also, the Transportation Board submitted its draft Work Plan for the next fiscal year, which will be reviewed by County Council. This and other documents are available for review at the county legistar site:

Though David North is Chair of the Transportation Board, this writeup is in no way official. It’s just an attempt to give a conversational synopsis of current events in the interest of more convenient public transparency. The Board meets first Thursdays at 5:30 pm and everyone is welcome to attend and comment. The board can be contacted via email at: