Road to nowhere?

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By Ralph Damiani

The council was faced with a tough decision this week. What to do about the so-called large intestine at the intersection of Jemez and Diamond roads.

The lawsuit that the county filed had a very unsatisfactory outcome – with the county winning an empty victory.

Money that was promised by the state never came and the county got the much more expensive end of the road work.

And the intersection at Diamond has to be completely rebuilt to be of any use to any one.

And all of this came to a head before the council this week.

In a presentation by Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman, the council was asked to approve an agreement for design and engineering services for the West Jemez Bypass project.

And the $12 million price went up by $261,625.

Another problem is that the county is having to foot much more of the bill then originally thought. The county was supposed to receive $6 million in funding from the state – a number promised to us by Gov. Richardson. But all that has ever been received is $2 million.

Leaving us to pay the remaining $10 million - which is now $10-and-a-quarter million.

So it is no wonder that some members of council had second thoughts about the project.

There was a lot of discussion about the need for the West Jemez Bypass road at all, centering concerns about whether the project should continue considering the price tag.

Part of the issue was concern over how LANL and NNSA would restrict traffic at the entrance. But there has not been much of a problem and there is some confidence that there will not be one.

So, questions were raised about the need at all.

Zimmerman told the council that finishing the project seemed prudent, reminding them that the county has until April 2011 to begin construction of the project.

So what to do?

We feel that the council did the right thing in proceeding with the work on at least the intersection. We have to do what we can to keep our roads open. The Ski Hill is to important an asset to us to have our access to it denied.

We have to keep our options open and we think the council is right in doing that.

As Councilor Nona Bowman said, we need to proceed with the design, the pros and cons can be discussed later.

This seems to be the right move.