Trinity construction woes should ease in November

-A A +A
By Arin McKenna

Looking forward to expanded shopping opportunities may seem small compensation when it comes to negotiating construction on Trinity Drive right now.

One lane of traffic on Trinity Drive is closed for installation of new water, gas and power lines. The infrastructure upgrade was slated to be part of the N.M. 502 project, but as part of its agreement with the county, Smith’s agreed to install the lines in order to forestall further construction blocking the newly-opened Marketplace store next year.

“The county worked with their design engineers on what we wanted to have installed, meaning the utilities portion of it. And we’re inspecting that work as it’s being installed,” Project Manager Brian Aragon said. “People are calling in concerns and we’re following up with what we can.”

Smith’s will also be replacing curbs and gutters and installing storm drain inlets that will tie into an upgraded storm drain system.

Los Alamos County Public Works Department will be replacing the current storm drainpipe running from Knecht to the discharge into DP Canyon with a larger one. That work will require lane closures on the north side of Trinity next spring.

Smith’s anticipates finishing its portion of the work in early November.

Construction truck traffic on the Main Hill Road should also decrease by then, since the goal is to have foundation work finished on the Trinity Site before winter weather sets in.

In a letter to the editor in Thursday’s Los Alamos Monitor, Tim Gladwell, the vice president of R&O Construction, explained the rationale for construction vehicles using the Main Hill Road.

“Concern for safety is the reason why trucks are using Main Hill Road rather than the established truck route during this phase of construction. While the haul time on that road is actually longer, it allows safer access to the building site and exposes other vehicles to fewer potential traffic incidents and congestion.

“Turning right off Trinity into the work site using the truck route requires these large trucks to swerve into the eastbound lane, which could create a dangerous situation. In addition, a left turn across oncoming traffic would be required out of the building site. This same scenario would hold if trucks were required to turn onto Knecht to enter the building site. In addition, using the truck route requires traveling through the center of Town and stopping at several traffic lights, which may increase noise levels in residential areas.

“Upon weighing these options, it was decided to use Main Hill Road as the better travel option, while acknowledging that this also would also present some inconveniences for the community.

Aragon said, “It is a challenge, and any time you do construction, people are going to be upset, because it does impact people’s lives. That’s one of the facets of construction. You have to understand that we’re going to end up with a great product, but we’re going to have to grin and bear the punishment of the construction and everything that goes on with it.”