502 redesign moves toward completion

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Trinity Drive > Questions remain about intersection for Smith’s new store

By Arin McKenna

After many rounds of proposed plans, public meetings and input from consultants, the redesign of one stretch of N.M. 502 appears to be nearing completion. The plan calls for reconstruction of Trinity Drive from Knecht Street to Tewa Loop.

The project is funded in the FY2014 New Mexico Department of Transportation District 5 State Transportation Improvement Program in the amount of $3.8 million. The county’s match of $1.125 million is allocated from the Capital Improvement Program budget.

A design approved by council in February 2012 had to be revised in December after NMDOT and the Federal Highway Administration rejected it. The new design addresses minimum Level of Service issues for side streets Arroyo Lane and Sombrillo Court by adding an additional eastbound lane along the entire corridor.

Reaching an agreement between NMDOT, FHA and the county has taken so long that the Environmental Impact Statement must be updated before the project can move forward. As part of that process, NMDOT and the FHA sponsored an open house to get public feedback last week. NMDOT representatives and county staff were on hand to answer questions and hear feedback. Approximately 45 people attended the meeting.

“The comments received were mixed but overall seemed supportive of the project,” said NMDOT Project Manager David Quintana. Quintana’s observations were echoed by Los Alamos County Engineering and Surveying Division Manager Kyle Zimmerman and Eric Johnson, environmental project manager for Marron and Associates, a consulting firm contracted by NMDOT.

In addition to two eastbound lanes, the design calls for “two westbound lanes from Knecht Street to west of D.P. Road and from Central Avenue to Tewa Loop. One westbound lane is proposed from west of D.P. Road to Central Avenue. A roundabout is proposed at the intersection of Trinity Drive and Central Avenue. Sidewalks would be constructed in areas that do not have sidewalks and areas where existing sidewalks do not meet current standards. Two pedestrian crossings will be established across Trinity Drive. A storm drain would also be installed from D.P. Road to Canyon Road.”

Zimmerman said only about 10 written comments were received at the meeting, but Johnson is not concerned about insufficient public input.

“We have tons. We’ve received at least 10 emails, and I seem to get at least two a day on this project,” Johnson said. “Plus it has a very long history of input. We have a phenomenal level in–far more than the typical project. And the turnout was good–50 people, and they’re very engaged, very knowledgeable people. So we’re in a good situation for public involvement.”

Some citizens raised concerns about the new intersection for the Trinity Site development. The proposed design has a signalized intersection. Some residents are advocating for a roundabout at that intersection.

Citizens have another opportunity to weigh in on the issue at Wednesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, when the P and Z reviews site plans for the new Smith’s Marketplace. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.
Johnson said that NMDOT would monitor the county’s decision regarding that intersection and weigh that when they make their own decision.

Zimmerman received questions about the two proposed High intensity Activated crossWalK pedestrian crossings. Some residents felt that one HAWK situated by the East Park Pool should be located closer to Canyon Road so those crossing from the north to the south side of the street would not have to double back to reach the Crossroads Bible Church.
Johnson said that most of the comments, such as those about moving the HAWK intersection, could be incorporated without difficulty.

“That’s the purpose of the meeting, to make those small changes. Things aren’t set in stone at the meeting, so changes like that are still an option,” Johnson said. “We’re going to do an environmental reevaluation, and we’ll document that and keep our administrative record, and document that the change was made.”

Public comment is being accepted for at least the next month. Contact Eric Johnson at Marron and Associates, 7511 Fourth St. NW, Albuquerque, N.M. 87107 or at 505-898-8848, eric@marroninc.com or fax to 505-897-7847.
The project is scheduled to begin final design after FHA approval, around the beginning of April. NMDOT has slated construction to take place the summer of 2014.