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Bypassing Los Alamos

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By Greg Kendall

Dear Editor,

On March 2 at 7 p.m., the county council will hold a special meeting in order to discuss the West Jemez Bypass project. Whether you are for or against the Bypass, please plan to attend this meeting in order to give your two cents worth of input to council.

I personally believe that $12 million plus is way too much to pay for a half-mile Bypass given that it is not clear we even need it. We have gone through two winter seasons using the FEMA funded Ski Hill Bypass and West Road connector. This route has worked well. The Ski Hill was packed until the snow stopped. People are getting where they need to go. Does anyone really believe that there is a crisis in our road system today that requires $12 million to fix?

Building the Bypass will use up open space unnecessarily and it will disrupt and fragment the environment and habitat of the Research Park property by placing a large dam-like road structure across a quarter mile area that includes a side-canyon to Los Alamos canyon and splits the property in two.  Huge amounts of fill will be required to build this dam-like structure that is up to 40 feet high in at least one area of the side-canyon.

The NNSA has told the county that they plan to close West Road after the Bypass is completed. West Road is a great road, I use it all the time. It’s a quick and pleasant way to get to the Jemez Mountains. What are we gaining by closing one good road and building a whole new one? Are we simply paving more paradise?

The Los Alamos business community should be very leery of being “Bypassed.” If we build the bypass connector, we are likely to inadvertently make Totavi the “gateway” to the Jemez Mountains, as this new Bypass road will tend to shoot visitors right up and down the Truck route, completely “bypassing” Los Alamos: Bypassing our stores; Bypassing our gas stations and Bypassing our restaurants. Maintaining West Road as our one Bypass will tend to lead many visitors through Los Alamos where our business community will have a decent shot at capturing tourist dollars.

Bypass proponents claim that many tourists are confused by the security portals and they just turn around. Wouldn’t it be astronomically cheaper to invest in some good signage to help these tourists?

No matter who pays for the Bypass, we shouldn’t be building something that two years of experience has shown we truly don’t need. Momentum is not a good reason to spend $12 million more taxpayer dollars, no matter where they come from. President Obama has asked that we not waste stimulus dollars, let’s hope that we don’t.

Los Alamos