N.M. 502 study gets more input

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Council will discuss the study Jan. 25

By Kirsten Laskey

The community voiced their opinions on the different options for N.M. 502 Corridor Tuesday night. The options will be presented to Los Alamos County Council Jan. 25.
During the meeting Tuesday, a representative of MIG, the consulting company for the N.M. 502 Corridor study, presented three options that council will consider for further research.
Jay Renkens, director of urban planning services, said various alternatives for the corridor were explored but the transportation board and the sustainability board recommended pursuing two variations of option A based on community input heard in November. A third variation was later added to expand on some concerns.
A1 would feature eight roundabouts along Trinity and a two-lane road ­– one in each direction – with a landscaped median down the middle, which would restrict left turns. Access to Los Alamos Medical Center would be relocated to 35th and 36th Streets.  There also would be a bike lane and pedestrian crossings. The alternative also proposes landscaped buffer strips as well as wider sidewalks. There would be room for right turn bays and bus bays.
There have been some changes to A1, Renkens said. Initially, there was an attempt to make the medians as continuous as possible but the community said it would not work because there would be too much transition. However, there needs to be some additional left turn capabilities at businesses’ driveways so now A1 features a median that is wide enough to also include left turn pockets and landscaping.  
Renkens added A1 also takes into account emergency vehicles and emergency access. The bike lane was widened to accommodate lanes in both directions.
A2 shares a lot of similarities to A1. The existing signals would be kept in place and left turn bays would be constructed in place of the landscaped median at intersections.
A3 illustrates a three-lane typical section with left-hand turn pockets.
Participants at the meeting voiced their views on the proposed options.
George Chandler wondered if any attention had been given to the Trinity Revitalization Project. “You can’t ignore that,” he said.
Renkens said the consultants have been addressing the Trinity site project.
Others in the audience were concerned that any roundabouts would slow or block traffic, especially during peak traffic times.
Renkens said actually roundabouts benefit the flow of traffic. “This option is faster time wise but slower speed wise,” he said, meaning drivers would go at a slower speed but get to their destination quicker because of continuous flow and elimination of delay.
Roundabouts also offer safety advantages, Renkens said, adding they reduce automobile crashes by 50-90 percent.
Plus, they are less expensive than traffic signals.
However, “I think signals can also work on this corridor,” Renkens told the Monitor, “(but) you couldn’t have the same level of pedestrian amenities. (To get those amenities) at least a couple of roundabouts would be necessary.”
Joyce Cady, who attended the meeting, said she was concerned about reducing the lanes on Trinity and how little some people know about the study.
“The facts have to be stated and shown that this what the proposal is and if you don’t like it, it’s going to be voted on Jan. 25 so you better speak up,” Cady told the Monitor.
Patricia Max commented the utilities and public works departments should be included in the corridor discussions since they will be responsible for plowing the streets and maintaining any landscaping.
“We really need to get the plowing folks and the utility folks in on this,” she said.
Many public meetings have been held regarding this corridor study, which addresses the stretch of road from the county line to Diamond Drive. Input from all the meetings will be synthesized and presented to the county council so they can select an option to further research. Another community meeting will be held March 9 and a final report will be developed after that, Renkens said. The report will be made available for public comment.
The project is just a study Renkens emphasized; it does not involve construction.

No Roundabouts, Please.

We are going in circles with these "options". Let's not debate this Again... most Los Alamos citizens don't want roundabouts! Please listen to us.

I know... if we petitioned against roundabouts, council will deem it illegal.