Letter To The Editor: Roundabout To Be Questioned By Citizens At Council Meeting Tuesday – Please Attend

Courtesy/Robert Wells
Los Alamos

Several recent letters to the editor have questioned the validity of the County’s plan to construct a roundabout at the main entry into and out of Los Alamos townsite; specifically, where Trinity Drive and Central Avenue join. 

I share the concerns raised in these various letters, and have created a town map that illustrates how ALL TRAFFIC INTO AND OUT OF Los Alamos townsite will need to be DIVERTED during the lengthy construction period. The map is designed to be self-explanatory, but I would like to add a few more observations.

While I have a Traffic Engineering graduate degree (as well as two additional engineering graduate degrees and held a New Mexico professional engineer/Civil license for decades until I elected retired status in 2014), my main concern about the roundabout stems from having lived in Washington, DC, for a total of seven years, where I was very familiar with the challenges of roundabouts such as DuPont Circle) and five weeks driving over 3,200 miles around England and Wales and four weeks driving comparable distances around Spain – two countries that use roundabouts extensively. (County planners must have spent time in Spain, since that country likes to have roundabouts “one right after another” as were recently advocated for Diamond and Trinity drives!) 

Roundabouts can be very beneficial when in the right traffic situation, such as the roundabout at the east end of Diamond Drive. (I lived on North Mesa until recently and greatly appreciated the clarity of design and traffic efficiency of that roundabout.) However, as pointed out by other letters to the editor, the requirements for a roundabout are very exacting – and must include non-motorist user safety; the Trinity-Central roundabout does not come close to meeting desired standards – it will cause new problems and extensive inconvenience during construction. (Please remember how long the County’s disruption of Canyon Drive lasted – over a year!)

Also please note that this issue impacts not just Los Alamos residents, but EVERYBODY coming into or out of the townsite. Lastly, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) proposed, in my opinion, a competent design for N.M. 502 improvements, but NMDOT has essentially gone along with the County’s insistence for a roundabout, probably using logic like: “Well, if that’s what the County wants, so be it”.

Well, the County staff and some councilors may want a roundabout, but chances are they will not stand up and take responsibility when things do not turn out as they had

Please pay close attention to this issue and ATTEND the Council meeting Tuesday, April 5, starting a 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building. Please inspect the following map: TRAFFIC DIVERSION INCONVENIENCE DUE TO ROUNDABOUT CONSTRUCTION.