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Orange cones dotted the street Thursday, turning Trinity Drive into more of an obstacle course, than a road.
The road was narrowed down to one lane to allow Department of Transportation crews to work on milling and resurfacing the road. The work is expected to last three weeks, with the drivable path of NM502 changing on a regular basis.
‘It’s difficult at the moment, but it’s a very good thing to have them maintaining the road,” Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman said. When asked how long it had been since the NMDOT last did major maintenance work on the road, Zimmerman said he’s been in Los Alamos 19 years and does not recall the NMDOT ever having done maintenance of this magnitude.
However, he did say they have done some striping work and they’ve provided patching materials the county uses to fill potholes. He also said two inlets by Timber Ridge were replaced about three or four years ago.
NMDOT Public Information Officer Karyn Lujan said reports from the past 10 years show that a “ton” of work has been done in Los Alamos County. “We’ve done routine maintenance, a number of blading projects, some crack and seal projects, erosion control projects and a huge drainage project ’04-’05, where new drop inlets were installed,” she said. Lujan said the state has also done snow removal.
Lujan said the state decided to do the maintenance because they finally had the funding to do so. She said the money is coming from the state’s regular maintenance budget.
Work crews are milling out two inches of asphalt and then they will follow that with a hot recycle resurfacing process. “So you have the burners out in front of the paving machine and you scarify it, then lay down an extra two inches (of asphalt) and you get a good bond between the old and the new (asphalt),” Zimmerman said. He said the work being done should give the state a 10-15 year road.
The decision to do the work seemed to come suddenly, according to Zimmerman. He said his department got a call from the state on July 1, saying that a preconstruction meeting would be held on July 13. The state was supposed to let the county know the time and place of the meeting, however, the meeting was actually held on July 8 instead and the state failed to give the county details about that meeting.
Zimmerman and his staff found out about the July 8 meeting by chance. “The paving contractor is the one we’ve had doing work on North Mesa and Barranca Mesa. My pavement manager was trying to contact their project manager and someone said he was at the preconstruction meeting,” Zimmerman said. He said a sign was put up near Airport Basin alerting drivers of the construction beginning July 13. “That’s the first we’d heard of it,” Zimmerman said.
Regardless of how the project came about, Zimmerman said that getting this road worked on by the state is a big positive for the community and is hopeful that communication between the county and the state will improve. “Communication has been improving,” he said. “We were able to meet and talk with the project manager Wednesday and we got them to start sending us press releases. Hopefully we’ll have more information,” he said.
Pavement Manager Tom Roach is keeping track of the project. “They’re finding soft sports in the road when they do the milling,” Zimmerman said. “Some sort of moisture has gotten into the road and we’re patching it and getting it ready for paving. Otherwise the road would fail.”
Closures on Trinity Drive began on July 16 and will continue for the next three weeks. Lane closures will begin at 7 a.m. to avoid traffic congestion at the intersection of Diamond Drive and Trinity Drive. Zimmerman made clear that the county has no say in how the lanes are closed down or how traffic is diverted and they are only able to provide the state with recommendations.
For up to date traffic advisories visit www.nmroads.com. For more information contact Karyn Lujan at 505-231-4431.