Fiber project may cause traffic delays

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By Jennifer Garcia

Construction projects and road closures seem to go hand in hand. Drivers traveling along Trinity have seen some lane closures lately, particularly between Knecht Street and 20th Street.

On Monday, roadwork will begin along Trinity down to Knecht Street and traffic will be affected. Los Alamos County started a new project on Tuesday that’s related to the current Airport Basin project. According to a press release from the Public Works Department, the Airport Basin Site – Fiber Optic Installation project extends from the Central/Knecht intersection in downtown Los Alamos eastward to the Airport Basin Site, behind DeColores Restaurant on NM 502. Crews will install the fiber optic infrastructure needed for computer and phone service at the new county/schools facilities.

Capital Projects and Facilities Project Manager Dan Erickson said the intent of the project is to run fiber from the IT headquarters at the library and get the backbone down to the Airport Basin Site. “The conduit is in place, but the fiber hasn’t been pulled yet,” he said. He also said there’s existing conduit for 1/3 of the distance of the project. Construction of the first three buildings at the Airport Basin Site will be completed by December 2009.

Originally estimated to cost between $800,000 and $900,000, the cost of the project is coming in lower, at around $700,000, according to Erickson.

During this 60-day fiber installation project, motorists may see crews trenching along the shoulder of NM 502 from the “Y” intersection at Central/Trinity to the Airport; however, traffic on NM 502 will not be impacted. Motorists are urged to use caution and slow down in this area.

Erickson said the project will zigzag behind the fence at the airport, so traffic should not be affected when that portion of the project is underway. He also said that potholing is currently being done and the utilities are physically being located. He expects the ducting portion of the project to end in August. “Fiber pull will start tentatively at the beginning of September because we don’t have the contracts yet,” Erickson said. Kelly Utility Services of New Mexico, based in Albuquerque is doing the project work.

Erickson said motorists can expect the biggest impact to be along the west lane of Knecht Street (more commonly called “Wall Street” - between Central and Trinity). This lane will be closed to accommodate significant trenching, curb and gutter, new sidewalks and new landscaping.

“Bill Enloe of LANB is contributing all the landscaping along with the concrete,” Erickson said. “Bill has put a good part of the money forth for this project.”

Access to Los Alamos National Bank will be maintained; however, only one entrance will be available to either the north or south parking lots and the entrance will shift as trench work proceeds along Knecht.

Access to Zia Credit Union on the east side of Knecht will not be impacted. Knecht Street south of Trinity (to the existing Animal Shelter and Knecht Automotive) is not part of this project and will not be impacted.

Erickson wanted to thank Elmo C de Baca for granting 5 feet of pedestrian easement right near the LANB sign on the north end of Wall Street. In addition, he said thanks were in order for all the work County Planner Martha Perkins has done in working on getting the easement.

Periodic lane drops on Trinity Drive between 20th Street and Knecht will be needed in July; however traffic impacts are expected to be minimal. A one-week road closure at the Central/4th Street intersection (in front of Canyon School) will be needed in July; however motorists will still be able to access downtown Los Alamos using Trinity Drive/15th Street.

More details and weekly updates will be posted in the Monitor’s Sunday “Construction Updates” or on the County’s “Cone Zone” webpage at www.losalamosnm.us.

For more information, contact Capital Projects and Facilities Project Manager Dan Erickson at 662-8150 or e-mail lacpw@lacnm.us.