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I am responding to a flyer posted around town, with no one claiming ownership, opposing the Bypass Road. It has many statements that are wrong.
First, we must realize that the probability of a dirty bomb being detonated somewhere in the world is increasing. If that happens, NNSA will surely close West Jemez Road to through traffic. Remember, two airplanes colliding with the World Trade Center gave us NNSA’s current “large intestine.”
Now, consider these flyer statements: “Proposed Road To Take Drivers Straight from Jemez down the Truck Route.” Isn’t that what East Jemez Road currently does? Then, “West Road funnels drivers straight towards downtown.” Wrong. After a few minutes’ wait for the light to change, drivers are funneled straight into LANL’s HRL or LAMC’s parking lots!
Next, “the Bypass Road will keep potential visitors away from downtown Los Alamos.” In reality, few visitors and trucks not going to LANL use the Truck Route. They come up the front hill road and are exposed to all the shopping and visiting opportunities the town presents. The flyer states: “Local business should be worried.”
They are – that is why the Chamber of Commerce endorses the Bypass. Again, the flyer: “For the past two years, West Road has safely provided county residents and visitors a sufficient alternative to going through the security checkpoints.” Wrong again.
Two years ago, my wife was in traffic for road repair around the blind curve down to the ice rink. In her rear view mirror she saw a cement truck bearing down on her, unable to stop.
She would have been crushed if the truck had not pulled into the oncoming up lane. It stopped a few cars ahead of her. Luckily, no one was coming the other way. The same scenario happened to me last month – stopped in the same blind spot.
This winter I had to dodge kids crossing the road from cars parked along the shoulderless road because the ice rink lot was full. In the winter of 2007-’08, the hill climbing out of the south side of the canyon was iced for many days, creating a real hazard.
The flyer says: “Improving West Road is the better solution.”
Consider the improvements. First, blast/excavate the hillside going down to the rink to provide shoulders and clear visibility. Next, blast the rock cliffs across from the rink to provide shoulders and off-road parking. Maybe add some crosswalks. Then continue blasting away the cliffs to the hairpin turn to provide shoulders.
Next, excavate/blast both canyon walls to increase the current 70-foot radius hairpin curve. Then, carve/blast the southside of the canyon to widen it and cut the trees above it to provide daylight to the frozen roadway. Don’t want to do that? Well, just salt the dickens out of the roadway and forget about the environmental damage.
And what about the damage to the canyon and the only naturally flowing stream in town? Now, once out of the canyon, one only has to negotiate four more sharp curves.
The best solution is to build the Bypass. It will aid business and the Pajarito Mountain recreation areas, make Los Alamos more tourist friendly, increase safety and provide better access to the Research Park. I believe damage caused by an “improved West Road” would be just as bad as any damage done by the Bypass. In fact, I recommend that after the Bypass is built, West Road should be closed just south of the road to the reservoir, proving access only to the ice rink, the reservoir and LANL technical areas. That would return Los Alamos Canyon to a more “green” condition.