BY DAVID NORTH
At an unusually busy meeting of the Transportation Board, the main event was a presentation on the options LANL is considering to handle transit issues that will inevitably come up as more employees come onboard.
To reduce an extremely complex discussion to the simplest possible terms, the bulk of the plan involves punching up public transit. A lot! The roads are already crowded at commute times, there is barely enough parking now, and over the next few years something on the order of 1500 commuting employees are expected to be hired, along with another 500-1000 who might find a home in the county. If all the commuters simply drive alone to work, it’s clear the problem will get considerably worse.
They’re looking at quite a number of strategies, including more transit routes from surrounding communities, an expansion of Atomic City Transit, the likely need to expand the transit center, plus encouraging more walking and bicycling.
There are also LANL-specific problems to address. For example, public transit cannot go onto the lab, or move people around from one TA to another. This may call for LANL-run shuttles, bike sharing, or various other approaches.
Overall, it’s complicated, and beyond the scope of a report like this. But you can download the report by going to the County Calendar (https://losalamos.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx) and opening the agenda for our January 6 meeting. You’ll find the link right under the heading for “LANL Transit Options Final Report.”
The Board was pleased to hear Juan Rael was chosen as the new Public Works Director. He has been great to work with, and represents the best kind of public service. A worthy successor after the great job done by Anne Laurent.
I was re-elected to the Chair, but the election is held in January, and my term expires in February. I have applied for a second term, but that’s up to the County Council. So maybe you’ll be hearing from a new Chair after this. Matt Heavner agreed to serve as Vice-Chair after Natalie Morgan expressed her preference to pass the office along.
We learned our hopes of advancing our Bicycle Friendly Community Designation from Bronze to Silver were dashed. Even though we advanced in most categories and were exceptional in most, our educational and training programs were considered inadequate for Silver Level. Nevertheless, we remain one of the few Bicycle Friendly communities in New Mexico, and are resolved to press hard on the issue.
Our work plan was also up for review, and will likely be approved next month. Of particular interest was encouragement from the Council, and the Chair in particular, to take a look at the possibilities of a Bike Share program and furthering Active Transport Programs through walking or bicycling. Which we certainly will do.
This dovetails nicely into another issue the Board is starting to inspect more closely, which is the electrification of transportation throughout the county. This includes electric bicycles as a topic, but is a broad subject including cars, buses, electric storage and capacity, charging … quite a lot. The plan at this point is to break the issue down into specific subject, research and discuss them, then make recommendations to Council.
Finally, folks on Sherwood Boulevard and Canyon Road will be interested to hear the projects to improve those routes will be described and discussed at the February meeting, scheduled for February 3 at 5:30 pm. Those wishing to attend will find a zoom link on the agenda, posted at https://losalamos.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.