County clears up Trinity miscoceptions

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By Jennifer Garcia

No project ever goes off without a hitch.

This is especially true for projects in Los Alamos. The complete streets project on Trinity Drive hasn’t even begun yet and already there is public outcry about what may or may not be developed on that stretch of road.

During Tuesday night’s county council meeting, Los Alamos resident Howard Cady spoke to council regarding the plans for a complete street on Trinity Drive.

He said he wanted to alert council to the fact that there’s trouble coming.

Cady said he and his wife have been attending the meetings of the Downtown Streets Committee, as well as the public meetings that have been held to discuss the project. Because of these meetings, Cady said he felt compelled to address council.

He followed up those comments in an interview Thursday.

“It has looked to me like they are ignoring the engineering problems with what they’re trying to do. I don’t think that all of the members of the council were aware that was going on,” Cady said.

He says his main concern was to wake the council up and get them to pay more attention to what their boards were doing.

“When it comes to the street, I’m concerned about things like traffic flow. It sounds like that part of Trinity is carrying about 11,000 cars an hour,” Cady said. “It looks like they’re trying to put through two plans of which most of the people are leaning towards this roundabout solution,” he continued.

He also said that he’s been trying to get the Planning and Public Works departments as well as emergency, rescue and the fire departments together so they can say, “yes this will work, or there’s a major flaw that needs to be addressed.”

So far, however, Cady has been unsuccessful at getting these departments to address the situation.

While Cady does not have a concrete vision for Trinity, he did say that good traffic counts need to be collected and staff needs to make sure their plans will work.

“I think they need to address the full length of Trinity and Central and Canyon Road as a unit,” Cady commented. “It might be well to try and make Central take pedestrian and bicycle traffic and keep Trinity primarily for vehicle traffic.”

He also said he’d like to see county staff consider all of the roads between Diamond Drive and the airport as a unit so they address the entire traffic flow problem at one time and can then decide what should be done.

“Whatever they do will not affect me because I can dodge it and go through whatever route I want to,” Cady said.

So far, three different options were presented to the public during the Complete Streets Workshop held on March 5. Those three options for Trinity were whittled down from seven options that had been presented at a meeting that was held prior to the workshop.

Though the public was given the opportunity to rate the three options, Los Alamos County Planner Paul Belson wants to make clear that there is no concrete plan in place just yet.

“We’re still in the phase of gathering public input. That will last a couple months from now,” he said. Belson said he will give presentations to community organizations in the near future.

In addition, he will visit with the planning and zoning commission in a workshop format sometime in the future, as well. In addition, he will also brief council sometime next month.

“We haven’t made any decisions or recommendations. We’re still having meetings and letting the public know what we’re doing. We’re gathering feedback,” he assured.

Though one of the options features four roundabouts, Belson said that they’re not sure where the roundabouts would go. “Those ideas are to stimulate dialog and discussion. The ultimate decision will be with council,” Belson said.

Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman concurred with Belson on the fact that there are no immediate plans to revamp Trinity. “There’s no project,” Zimmerman said simply. “We’re not setting up to rebuild Trinity next year. There’s a huge misconception.”

However, Zimmerman said the state is doing a project on DP Road and Central, towards the airport.

Getting the state to maintain N.M. 502 has been a real challenge, Zimmerman said.

“There are areas where the curb and gutters are almost disintegrating,” he said. The county is trying to get the state to meet its maintenance obligations.

He said that whatever vision staff comes up with for Trinity, they want to make sure that things line up.

“We don’t want to construct something today that we have to reconfigure in the not-so-near future,” Zimmerman said. “We want to find out what the community’s vision for the road is so when the state does their projects and developments alongside Trinity, we can make sure that vision is met.”

In an effort to test how the three different Trinity options would work in real life, Zimmerman said that his staff is running the scenarios through traffic simulation software.

“We need answers. You wouldn’t want to make a decision to go one way and find out it was the wrong decision. Council is asking that the state come up and present the N.M. 502 project to them. They have also asked for street standards. That should happen sometime in May,” Zimmerman said.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to attend the Complete Streets meeting and give staff their feedback and ideas about the possible project before a plan is put in motion.

The Downtown Streets Committee holds meetings twice monthly, on the first and third Thursdays of the month. For more information on the meetings, visit the county’s website at www.losalamosnm.us, or call the Community Development Department at 662-8120.