Stop the Bypass Road

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By The Staff

Stop the Bypass Road

Dear Editor,

A new road is poised to open (see photo on p. 3 of Nov. 8 Los Alamos Monitor). From the top of West Road (near where it used to intersect State Road 4) you will be able to travel west, directly to the ski hill, bypassing LANL’s western guard station. DOE built this highway through TA-62, along a former road that accessed a large water tank.

The workmen are itching to build a new section of highway that will continue this bypass to the east, enabling motorists to avoid the eastern LANL guard station. This proposed road will eliminate the need to use West Road as a bypass, with its steep, hairpin turns and passing the ice-skating rink. Slated to be built by the county for $12 million, the road will continue from the top of West Road due east, skirt the northern edge of the research park building and intersect with the southern tip of Los Alamos Canyon bridge.

The actual cost can’t be measured in dollars.Passing through dense Ponderosa pine forest, a cursory estimate is that 1,000 trees need to be felled.The road will traverse steep gullies, requiring a 40-foot retaining wall behind the research park and destroying the DeVaney trail that crosses the canyon from the Western Area. As the road approaches the bridge, it will cut into the rim of Los Alamos Canyon.

All of this destruction just so motorists can avoid the LANL guard stations.

I know all the arguments:(1) can’t use West Road as a bypass because (a) road not suitable for large trucks, (b) road too icy in winter, (c) too much traffic passing skating rink; (2) trucks and large vehicles need to be inspected by LANL guards which discourages commerce and tourism; and (3) fear that LANL will close road to the public.

Has anyone thought of the negative consequences of this proposed road?The beautiful, wooded canyon rim by the bridge will become an unsightly, huge intersection with traffic noise echoing off the canyon walls into the homes on Fairway Drive.The research park will be sandwiched between two major highways destroying the wilderness setting that currently exists in its backyard.

The loop of trails encircling Los Alamos Canyon will be broken by the destruction of the DeVaney trail.Commerce and tourism may actually suffer when traffic is funneled down East Jemez Road rather than diverted through town on West Road.Additional costs will be incurred by DOE to clean up SWMUs (Solid Waste Management Units) on the south side of the bridge. The new “large intestine” LANL entrance station will be rebuilt.

My solution: keep the DOE bypass road through TA-62 closed until code red emergency requires LANL to limit State Road 4 use. Under emergency conditions, open the new DOE bypass road and let traffic continue on West Road through the town site. In the meantime, allow access only to bicyclists and pedestrians, which will eliminate them from the busy highway approach to LANL.Granted, this status quo may still aggravate a few tourists and delivery truck drivers, but wake up Los Alamos – we live next to a top-secret national security lab. Let’s welcome the safety and security that may keep undesirables from entering town. And most important – let’s preserve our natural setting. Once it’s gone you can’t bring it back.

Andi Kron

Los Alamos