Local banter out does Middle East experience

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By Joel M. Williams

I have just returned from three weeks in the Middle East (Egypt and Israel). Not one problem — no gun shots nor riots. Peaceful and quiet; unlike the banter over the Trinity Drive reconstruct I left in Los Alamos!
The Egyptians were especially happy to see us and treated us like kings and queens — well, at least like the elite. Loved the way they turn three-lane highways into seven lane ones with cars going every which way when the traffic load gets heavy. Looked like they were braiding hair. Made me think of a congested two-lane Trinity Drive.
Since I was gone, I did not attend the April 7 meeting on the Trinity Drive reconstruct. Here are a few comments I would have made.
First a comment about the Transportation Board: it is assumed that when they joined the board they actually had the credentials that are necessary to evaluate things that would come before them in an analytical manner; not just to provide rhetoric and to see that their self-supported ideas got passage.
When the members of the Transportation Board “blessed” the roundabout approaches, they declared that they had those credentials and had at least verified validity of the basic premises placed before them. In other words, they declared themselves authoritative.
I have NOT modeled traffic flow down Trinity as some have made snide remarks to denigrate. I looked, however, at the two most basic components involved: actual traffic safety in Los Alamos (not some extrapolated number) and flow through a roundabout as a function of traffic load. This is the least the Transportation Board should have done.
I retrieved safety data from the county and demonstrated that four-lane Trinity Drive is safer vehicle-load-wise now than is two-lane Central/Canyon. This is far different than we have been led to believe. The Transportation Board made a decision on information that was designed to scare.
The actual data does not scare! So the Transportation Board did not verify the first basic premise in the issue at hand; checking out the actual safety facts. Rather, they chose to go the scare tactic route with data far removed from reality.
Secondly, I chose to determine how much traffic a roundabout could handle. I choose a single roundabout with single-lane feeds and exits as those wanting roundabouts propose. I did not generate data, but use published data; thus I did not model a roundabout.
I even chose a larger roundabout than can be put on Trinity to give roundabouts a better shake than they deserved. The published data does not support the premise that the current load on Trinity Drive can be handled. Indeed, the published data demonstrates that such roundabouts cannot handle anywhere near the current loads even during non-rush periods.
That the data I have presented is incorrect has not come forth, only snide insinuations that I am a self-professed expert and should have shut up and let those who want roundabouts have their way. Implicit is the fact that those on the Transportation Board, who “blessed” the roundabout proposals, were intimately knowledgeable about such affairs and thus were capable of acting as the experts for the whole citizenry.
I have demonstrated that the Transportation board and others involved in recommending roundabouts did not even check to see that the two most basic premises were correct.
Since they did not see to it that the simple stuff was correct, then it is doubtful that they did better when things got more involved. Based on their attention to detail, their recommendations deserve the same consideration they gave to getting the basic premises correct: none.
Los Alamos citizens should not goaded into accepting something espoused by those who would use highly slanted data to justify their position and then slam others who bring forth data that opposes their stance.

Joel M. Williams
Los Alamos