County to receive funds for Diamond project

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By Jennifer Garcia

Los Alamos County will soon receive $1,962,217 for the Diamond Drive Phase 3 construction project, thanks to a grant from the federal government.

On Friday, during a special session held in council chambers, county councilors voted to approve a Resolution of Support for use of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

After a short discussion, the motion made by Council Vice Chair Mike Wismer and seconded by Councilor Vincent Chiravalle, passed 4-0. Councilors Nona Bowman, Robert Gibson and Ralph Phelps were absent.

Resolution No. 09-08 is required for the county to receive awarded American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds in the amount of $1,962,217 to offset costs associated with Diamond Drive Phase 3 construction. The resolution was published, as required, on May 14. The method of funding is through a New Mexico Department of Transportation Cooperative Agreement.

Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman said Friday afternoon that there are no specific aspects to the project for which this money will be used. “There’s nothing identified. It’ll just be used to fund part of the project,” he said.

Zimmerman said that in addition to Diamond Drive Phase 3, two other projects were submitted for funding consideration; Diamond Drive Phase 4 and the West Jemez Bypass projects.

The projects were submitted at the beginning of the year, when people started talking about the stimulus funds the Obama administration intended to allot states for shovel-ready infrastructure plans. “At that time, the State of New Mexico requested projects and we submitted Diamond Drive Phase 3 and at that time, plans for the West Jemez Bypass Project,” Zimmerman commented.

Plans that got submitted went through a process of review beginning with the Northern Pueblo Regional Planning Office. From there, the District 5 State Offices made recommendations, then the items went on to the main offices, which in turn made recommendations to the governor.

In order to use the funds, there are certain reporting requirements that need to be met. In an effort to meet the requirements, the county has prepared an amendment that has to be agreed upon by RMCI, Inc., the contractor doing the construction.

“We discussed this with the contractor at a preconstruction meeting,” Zimmerman said. He also indicated that RMCI was agreeable to the amendment.

In addition, county council also approved the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Cooperative Project Agreement with the State of New Mexico Department of Transportation for the purpose of receiving the award for the project.

The motion, made by Chiravalle and seconded by Wismer, passed 4-0, as well.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to get money from the federal government. I think the electrical distribution is needed and our citizens will benefit from it,” Wismer commented.

Council Chair Michael Wheeler said that this money will also provide non-potable water distribution for the county and that’s an even bigger benefit than the electrical distribution.

So far, all is going well along Diamond Drive, according to Zimmerman. Traffic control went up last Friday and residents got the chance to drive the route over the weekend. “We have been fine-tuning it all week,” Zimmerman said. “The highest recorded delay was Monday, at four-and-a-half minutes. Since that time, the delays have been two to two-and-a-half minutes.”

He also said that the Public Works Department has received some complaints from people in the Pueblo Complex area, who are having difficulty getting onto Diamond Drive.

“We’ve watched that and what we’re seeing is that there’s some very courteous drivers on Diamond who are slowing down or stopping to allow people from the side streets or complex to turn onto Diamond, or make a turn onto a side street from Diamond. People are behaving well; we want to encourage them to continue that,” Zimmerman said.

According to the results of a stop-way study performed by the Public Works Department, the average stop time for people coming out of the Pueblo Complex is 48 seconds.

Zimmerman also said that there have been some problems along the way with bicyclists who are riding behind the barrels in the construction zone.

“They need to stay in the traffic lanes or use North Road/Arkansas. We’re going to be putting in additional pedestrian crossings. There are too many pedestrians walking in the construction zone and we need to get them over to the east side of the road,” he continued.

Residents in the area can look forward to much of the same this coming week, as Sycamore will remain closed.

“The contractor’s original schedule had them closing down North Road the week of June first, but I think they’re about a week behind,” Zimmerman remarked. Though the contractor got off to a slow start, Zimmerman said he thinks they’ll be able to catch up on things.

In addition, Zimmerman encourages residents who have questions or concerns to contact the Public Works Department.

“We can’t be out there all the time, so if people have questions or concerns, we want them to call us,” he said. The Public Works Department can be reached at 662-8150 or via e-mail at lapw@lacnm.us.