DOE/NNSA NEWS RELEASE
The Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s (DOE/NNSA) Los Alamos Field Office has issued a Floodplain Statement of Findings for proposed installation of post and cable or in-kind barriers along West Road at selected locations near the Los Alamos County ice-skating rink in Los Alamos Canyon.
The proposed project is intended to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety on West Road by reducing traffic hazards associated with unsafe roadside parking and reduce wildland fire hazards associated with vehicles driving and parking on vegetation. West Road crosses approximately 0.35 miles (mi.) (1,900 feet (ft.)) of the Los Alamos Canyon floodplain at the bottom of Los Alamos Canyon.
The post and cable or other in-kind barriers would be installed on the road shoulders to block the informal parking. The current project identifies four areas in the floodplain; however, the floodplain assessment includes any additional informal parking barriers the project may need to install in the Los Alamos Canyon floodplain. The post and cable or other in-kind barriers would be installed on the north and south sides of West Road near the ice-skating rink. Post and cable or other in-kind barriers will also extend to the east from the guardrails at the hairpin road curve. The barriers would be installed using heavy equipment such as auger or mini-backhoe. Heavy equipment will remain on paved surfaces and established shoulders during installation. The installation activities are not proposed within the stream channel but instead in the upper riparian area of the floodplain.
DOE/NNSA has reevaluated the Proposed Action and found that there are no alternatives that would locate the Proposed Action outside a floodplain and identified mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize impacts to the floodplain.
DOE/NNSA received two public comments during the 15-day Floodplain Assessment public review and comment period. One concern was that the project would impact the parking capacity for the ice-skating rink. It was suggested to expand the current parking area on DOE property by moving the gate further down Los Alamos Canyon to increase the number of parking places. Any extension of parking further east into Los Alamos Canyon would have to be fully evaluated and has not been considered by NNSA. There are concerns for DOE – Environmental Management Consent Order (cleanup) sites right beyond the existing gate and the area is within buffer habitat for the Jemez Mountain salamander, an endangered species. The commentor should consider working with LAC to address concerns about existing and potential future parking options in the DOE lot. The other concern was for bicycle safety. DOE does not anticipate the post and cable installation to increase any hazards for bicyclist. The post and cable will be installed at a minimum of three feet from the white shoulder stripe on the roadway. Additionally, the distance that is open between the post and cable and the roadway will allow bicycles an area to stop in if necessary. Upon completion of the Proposed Action the floodplain will retain the same values and functions as present prior to the fence installation. The Statement of Findings can be accessed online at https://www.energy.gov/nepa/articles/los-alamos-national-laboratory-floodplain-statement-findings-west-road-post-and-cable