Committee looks at ways to improve streets

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By Jennifer Garcia

Los Alamos County residents may see long-needed changes along Trinity Drive if the Downtown Street Standards Committee has its say.


The committee will meet for its first open house this coming week, in hopes that the public will attend and get in on the ground floor of this planning process.


CDD Director Rick Bohn and County Planner Paul Belson have both been working with committee members since October to try and come up with a strategy that would not only make Trinity Drive safer, but more aesthetically pleasing to all those who use the thoroughfare.


Bohn has been serving as the liaison between the committee and the Planning and Zoning Department, while Belson has been assisting him.


Bohn said that these plans came about approximately nine years ago and are part of the Downtown Master Plan. During that time, a compilation study was done by an outside consultant, particularly on street standards.


“The Downtown Master Plan talks about being pedestrian friendly, so council started to adopt some of these street standards into the development code,” he said. “Some standards don’t take into account the county right of way. They just don’t work in some cases.”


He also said that when the proposals were brought forth, the Public Works Department didn’t vet them. “


The Downtown Code allows people to build to their property line. If it only leave room for a 4-foot sidewalk, that won’t work,” he stated.


Bohn said the committee was formed when County Administrator Max Baker gave the green light to form the committee, which includes members of the community, county staff, local organizations and representative from the state Department of Transportation, Los Alamos Commerce and Development corporation, LA Walks and LA Bikes are all represented on the committee.


The committee hopes to start a public discussion on the streets, however, its main goal, according to Bohn, is to come forward with an ordinance to replace the old code that doesn’t work for the street codes.


“The committee started meeting to generate alternative. Paul and the committee started drawing up things to stimulate discussion. We hope to involve the business people, those who are interested in cycling, the commuters and the people who use the thoroughfare,” Bohn said.


Not only does the county want to improve Trinity Drive, but they are also in discussion with the state regarding possibly taking the street over.


“They (the state) said they’re open to the possibility of letting the county take it over,” Bohn said.


Belson said that the committee took to the idea of streets that are designed and maintained to be safe for all users and be visually attractive.


“At the meeting on Thursday, there will be information about the committee and information about the Complete Streets program,” he said. “We want to hear from the public about Complete Streets.”


Bohn said the committee has established goals in terms of schedule and implementation and criteria that any plan should meet.


“We’ve thrown out seven proposals. It’s easier to show the public the drawings than it is to show them conceptually,” he said. “We’ve made some good progress, but the hardest part lies ahead.”


The seven proposals are:


• As is


• Downtown Plan


• Bike lanes


• Wide outside lane


• Multi-use path


• Continuous flow


• On-street parking


Bohn said there are many grant opportunities that might fund such an improvement project.


However, until the committee has heard from the public and produced concrete plans to present to council, funding sources are on a backburner, for now.


“You need to have a plan in place before you ask for funding,” he said.


Belson wanted to make clear that the meeting next week is by no means a deciding point.


“This is our preliminary work for initial feedback,” he said. “We’ll take comments, meet as a committee and review them.”


The open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the Community Building.


Those interested in attending meetings of the Downtown Street Standards Committee can do so every first and third Thursday of the month, from 10-10:30 a.m. in the conference room at the County Annex.


The public is encouraged to attend the regularly scheduled meetings and the open house on next week.


You can monitor the committee’s progress and get updates by visiting www.losalamosnm.us.


You may also e-mail comments or questions to Belson at paul.belson@lacnm.us.


Sketches of the proposals may be viewed by visiting www.lastreets.info. In addition, you can also voice your opinion at that site, as well.