Make road through White Rock short

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By Joel M. Williams

I don’t live in White Rock, but like others I pay state taxes and am, thus, a shareholder in N.M. 4.

White Rock residents can do as they please off road, but not with the road and its right of ways. There are lots of non-White Rock residents that have a voice in this matter.

For laboratory employees who live off the hill, White Rock is a place in the road where they can get gas and a refreshment on the way home. Having to go around in circles to do so is not what they expect nor for why they pay taxes.

For tourists going to Bandelier, it is the same with a meal break possibly thrown in and a bed if the day gets too long. White Rock is not a tourist stop. Very few tourists leave the main road in such places anywhere in the country. The only reason a tourist is likely to venture far from N.M. 4 in White Rock is to go to the Rio Grande Overlook. Travel through White Rock should be convenient with easy access to roadside businesses. A safe posted speed limit and commercial activities that appeal to tourists are what is needed on N.M. 4. If these businesses are good, locals will come, too. There is a lot of poorly used space on the “commercial” East Road side – a hodgepodge to say the least. This is where planning and development are needed. A new visitors’ center on the west side will provide a nice touch but will hardly lead to an economic boon. The motel that is already there has made it convenient for some tourists to spend a night or two. The planned trailer park in conjunction with the visitors’ center will encourage a few more to stay overnight. Some tourists might even wander several hundred feet off Rte 4 to Smith’s! A light at Sherwood might be appropriate, but more than three lights on N.M. 4 in this stretch seems overkill.

If White Rock rehabilitators are looking for tourists to give them a great economic infusion, they are delusional. White Rock itself has nothing scenic to offer! White Rock is just a way-station to Bandelier for tourists. The RV park might help them leave their trailer for a jaunt to “historic” Los Alamos, however. If tourists want to hike, they will do it at Bandelier. So, turning a state highway into a walking mall with circles at either end and along the highway will certainly leave an image – of pretentiousness.

For White Rock residents: What else do you want besides making the east side of N.M. 4 a tourist-inviting stopover and adding the visitors’ center and RV park on the west in terms of economic revitalization?  I have to drive 5 miles into Los Alamos to get a nut or nice meal. Sure, I’d like a hardware store just down the street, but I live with what I have in Los Alamos because I like it here.

Nobody (that includes White Rock residents) has shown much interest in driving through, much less stopping in, that rat’s nest east of N.M. 4. Little wonder there is such vacancy. Better to convert the whole area to “skyscraper” condos, if it could be done. The developers might even throw in a bowling alley and cinema that all can use. Free enterprises are not likely to find White Rock any more attractive than Los Alamos proper. So what else is Los Alamos County supposed to help with? We hear revitalization, but what does that mean? White Rock has never been a boomtown with great glory days to be resurrected!

Traffic circles: We hear it said that if it’s European, it must be good. Balderdash. Europe and circles came before there were lights. After America’s Edison invented the light bulb, folks saw the light(s) and awakened from the dark. Fewer were jaywalking with lights as those circles no longer had to be avoided like the plague.

State highways are meant to convey motorists comfortably, safely and quickly from one place to another along that route. Motorists do not take kindly to permanent obstructions in a road that requires them to proceed at a snail’s pace. Thus, any roundabout must be such that it restricts flow along N.M. 4 to a minimum; not to a maximum.

For those who wish to be enlightened about roundabouts, see www.roundaboutsusa.com, which shows lots of them, along with associated traffic and safety facts. You might even read some of the debates.

Joel M Williams

Los Alamos