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Los Alamos drivers may be maneuvering through roundabouts on Trinity Drive in the future.
From four proposed alternatives that the NM 502 corridor study developed to improve Trinity Drive, the transportation board is recommending that Los Alamos County Council direct staff to further study and gather input on two alternatives – A1 and A2.
A1 would remove all traffic signals from Trinity Drive and include roundabouts. A2 proposes to have a mix of roundabouts and existing traffic signals. The board further recommended that county staff research the costs for the two alternatives and report their findings to the transportation board.
Kyle Zimmerman, Public Works director, told the Los Alamos Monitor, staff and consultants hired for the study will meet with businesses on Trinity about the alternatives and get feedback. A presentation about the alternatives will be made to council in January.
Once an alternative is approved, the consultants will analyze how traffic flow would be impacted by that option and present their findings to the community and council.The transportation board listened to a presentation by Jay Renkin, an MIG planner, and Jeff Key, a CDM traffic engineer, during their special meeting Wednesday night. Both Renkin and Key are part of the consulting team working on the NM 502 corridor study. After hosting public hearings and sessions with stakeholders to collect input on the study, the consultants reported their findings to the transportation board.
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 would also 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.
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.
The third alternative or alternative B would feature four lanes. There would be two through lanes in the middle with landscaped medians and a local access lane in each direction to accommodate right turn access, bus traffic and shared bicycle traffic.
The final option, or alternative C, would be a four-lane roadway with a raised median. There would be no left turn lane, no bike lane and minimal pedestrian access.
Tuesday night, about 100 people attended the public meeting. Of those who submitted a written comment, 58 percent were in favor of the alternative A1, 15 percent chose A2 alternative, 10 percent indicated they preferred either A1 or A2, 15 percent said they wanted alternative B, and 2 percent chose alternative C.
In improving Trinity Drive, board member Janie O’Rourke said the goals are to provide safety, accessibility to all users, improve conditions for residents and improve pedestrian crossing opportunities that are safe and accessible.
“A1 and A2 both seemed to accommodate all the users with more safety and accessibility,” she said.
The transportation board acknowledged that roundabouts seem to be controversial in the community, but they do offer a number of benefits.
Board chair Khalil Spencer said the roundabout treatments in A1 appear to have less travel time. O’Rourke added, roundabouts have fewer car crashes than traffic signals. She said at a traffic intersection, there are 32 potential crash points whereas a roundabout only has eight. Plus, because cars are moving at slower speeds, there is less danger to drivers, walkers and bikers, O’Rourke said.
An issue with all the options, however, O’Rourke said, is that a center median eliminates making left turns except at intersections. With a roundabout, to access a business that is on the left-hand side of Trinity, a driver would need to go around the roundabout and go back to turn into a business. “While this seems inefficient, it may not take any longer than what we do today, which is to sit in the middle turn lane and wait for a cap in oncoming traffic,” O’Rourke said. “And it is certainly safer.”
There is still more work to be done before any final decisions can be made; Spencer said he expects the transportation board will see more feedback from the staff and consultants as they look into the two alternatives. There needs to be a consensus around the final design, he said.
This is an important project to address, especially with the potential capital project planned for Trinity such as the Trinity Site Revitalization, Spencer said. “It (Trinity) needs to be rebuilt anyway. It has very few pedestrian crossings and we’ll be putting in even more residential and commercial properties on the south side … so we need to do something if we are going to follow our own design goals for a walkable, bicycle-friendly community.”