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The West Jemez Bypass project appeared to be the more controversial of the two agenda items discussed by councilors Tuesday night, as more than half of the public left after a vote where council approved a motion 5-to-2. Councilors Robert Gibson and Jim Hall voted against the motion offered by councilor Fran Berting to look at options for locating a bypass near the security perimeter gates. Berting’s motion asked staff to optimize the placement of a West Jemez Road; at the same time, staff was asked to examine a gas pipeline road for a potential better placement, and to obtain more design and cost information on making West Road safer. The passing of the motion in no way guaranteed the bypass will be built at all; in fact, canceling the project altogether is still a possibility.The basis for the motion came from a presentation by Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman and project manager Audoro Espinoza, who went over the 90-percent design as currently proposed, and also reviewed some of the concerns faced by the project. The project was initiated after a security perimeter project installed gates on Jemez Road to control access to the laboratory, and the county sued NNSA/DOE for unimpeded access.“The settlement agreement was signed off in 2006,” Espinoza said.
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