T-Board validates 90-percent design

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By Gabriel Vasquez

The Los Alamos Transportation Board voted in favor of the 90-percent design phase of the West Jemez Bypass Thursday, which will go before County Council as the board’s endorsement of the best route to take.

Looking at the design from an engineering and environmental standpoint, the board decided that if the project's goals are still valid, the current design should be finalized.

“It stays on the Research Park boundary, we don't have to go through the EPA process and we can get it built faster,” said public works director Kyle Zimmerman. Furthermore, “we have spent $1.5 million to date in consulting, so if we stop now, the county spent one-and-a-half million on it.”

The total cost of the project would be $12.26 million, not accounting for the spiking asphalt prices currently on the market.

“We received a letter saying July 1, the price (of asphalt) would be increased to $68 a ton,” Zimmerman said.

Last year, the county was paying $35 a ton, and just last month, the price increased to $53 a ton. Zimmerman attributed the almost 100-percent spike to transportation costs related and the general price of doing business in today's weaning economy.

He said there was no estimate yet as to how much the increase would bump up the $12 million figure currently proposed.