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Designing roadways takes sound engineering skills

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I fly quite often and am a member of a number of airline frequent flier programs.
However, I do not feel qualified to design aircraft. Designing a roadway is a skilled engineering occupation, at least as complex as aeronautical design and with the same efficiency and safety ramifications.  
The tools available to street designers, including sophisticated modeling tools, allow accurate analysis of traffic patterns and flow under traffic load with many different road configurations.
The idea that simply driving is sufficient qualification to design a street is absurd.  However this has not prevented a number of opinions in the Los Alamos Monitor, most recently the letter by Anthony A. Amsden.
Mr. Amsden should have stopped at criticizing the design criteria. He correctly observes, and objects, that Canyon Road and Central Avenue do not encourage high-speed traffic.
Had anyone asked for my input to the design criteria for Trinity Drive, I would have explained that I passionately dislike waiting at red lights. Burning gas and wasting time while staring at an empty road in front of me, prompts me to vociferously encourage any effective alternate traffic control device and leaves me wondering why anyone would promote stoplights when good roadway design can present a more efficient solution.
Mr. Amsden’s attempt at street design, based on no other stated qualification than being a licensed driver, begins by destroying all credibility with a most ill informed comment that “roundabouts work best for two-lane streets.”
Roundabouts are very successfully engineered into many street designs, including multi-lane configurations, with almost any traffic density and speed.
Initial engineering design says that Trinity Drive with roundabouts is most efficient and best meets the needs of that street, including commute-time drivers and local traffic.  For land use or economic reasons, both very appropriate topics for citizen input, we may end up with a different solution. Engineering and engineers benefit from review and interaction and the people of Los Alamos and users of Trinity Drive will undoubtedly provide valuable input to the design process.
Hopefully, all contributors will realize how much more knowledge is required to design a road than just the ability to operate an automobile.

Jim Redman
Los Alamos