Letter To The Editor: Trinity’s Diet – Less ‘Weight’ Or More Wait?

Los Alamos

I have watched with some trepidation as Trinity Road has become increasingly constricted. Trinity, in my life (and the lives of many other country residents and workers), is a way to get where I am going. It is an essential artery of the county’s transportation system. The more efficiently Trinity gets us there safely, the better!

The progress report for the County Council by County Engineer Eric Ulibarri and Public Works Project Manager Keith Wilson (Link) presented experience to date with the Trinity Diet.

I think the report fell short of a clear assessment: important information was omitted or interpreted loosely.

Information on traffic flow was incomplete and presented in a misleading way. For example, Ulibarri said,
“Motorists become accustomed to four lanes and now all of a sudden they have two lanes or one way in each direction and there’s a perception that there is less capacity on the roadway.” In reality, this is not just a matter of perception: there is no doubt that the diet HAS reduced capacity. Wilson pointed out that transit times are increased, a clear symptom of reduced capacity. He neglected to give travel time
increases for peak hours and treated the increases as unimportant.

Safety information was incomplete, as well. Granted, safety information takes time to gather and interpretation is difficult for small samples. Still, more thought needs to be given to meaningful comparisons. Has safety improved for cars? Also, has the integration of bike lanes resulted in significant
usage volumes and how safe is Trinity for cyclists?

It’s not at all clear that the continuous center lane is cost effective compared with center-lane-as-needed. How much of the pavement devoted to turns is used and at what frequency?

More generally, and speaking as a driver, I cringe when I hear traffic engineers talk about “traffic calming”. My term for it is “driver aggravation”. I would much rather hear terms like “convenience”, “efficiency”, “time to destination”, “accident costs”, and “fatalities per traveler-mile”. Have Santa Fe and Albuquerque adopted these features for arterial roads? Not widely, I think. What is the national experience with such road features?

Los Alamos continues to grow, and our street infrastructure should be increasing in effectiveness to maintain or improve our quality of life.

Are we losing “weight” or gaining wait?


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