Diamond Drive Phase 2 nears completion

-A A +A
By Jennifer Garcia

Some Los Alamos residents might feel that the Diamond Drive project is one that seems to be dragging on forever, and like all construction sites, there have been delays, detours and frustration from drivers trying to navigate through the construction zone.

With autumn quickly approaching and an Oct. 30 deadline looming for completion of Phase 2, it may appear that the work will go on well into the winter months, which would mean even bigger headaches for residents who drive that stretch of road.

Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman wants to squelch any concerns the public may have about the project not meeting deadline.

“If the contractor doesn’t finish the work, he’s responsible for snow plow and ice work (in the winter). That’s a big incentive to finish the work on time,” Zimmerman said.

He said that snow control would cost the contractor between $25,000 and $50,000.

Zimmerman has come up with a backup plan in case the contractor's plans go awry.

“Plan B is to ensure that at least one layer of (mat) pavement on the entire roadway is in place before starting on the second mat. Worst case, having one mat in place would allow striping to occur at a minimum, the vehicular travel lanes would be open,” he said.

After placing one mat, the contractor would continue to place the second mat as weather permits.

The required air temperature for placing asphalt is 45 degrees or higher. It is possible that the contractor would work as little as two hours per day to complete paving, depending on weather.

In this case, a work zone would be established each time work is conducted and removed immediately afterward.

One hitch to the plan is a concern with the location of a few utility poles, one of which now lies in the middle of a newly constructed concrete sidewalk, and two others that may have to be left in the new constructed bike lane, prohibiting full use of the bike lane until the poles are removed.

Zimmerman is waiting for Qwest and Comcast to route their lines underground so that the poles can be removed, though he’s not sure exactly when that is going to happen.

The need for new roads in this area was noted after the Cerro Grande fire. Huge trucks hauling debris, as well as heat from the fire combined to deteriorate the roads in the Diamond Drive area.

Design work for the project began in 2005 and after many public meetings, Zimmerman worked with County Council to get final approval for the project.

The first phase began in 2007, while the second phase began this year.

The third phase is scheduled for 2009, with a projected completion date of 2010 for Phase 4.

Currently, 90 percent of the utility work for phase two is completed, with 55 percent of curbs, sidewalks and gutters have been replaced throughout the project and 10 percent of the first mat of pavement has been placed on the project.

Phase 3 will start south of School Canyon and continue to North Road. Phase 4 will begin at North Road and extend to the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge.

The notice to proceed with Phase 2 was issued to AS Horner on April 21.

Following the Oct. 30 deadline, construction crews will have five weeks to complete punch list items after an inspection by the Public Works Department.