NMDOT Moves Forward On NM 502 Roundabout Project

Star Paving General Superintendent Randy Payment, left, updates the T-Board Thursday on the N.M. 502 project. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos Daily Post

It is full speed ahead for the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to complete the roundabout project on N.M. 502.

Assuming there are no delays, it is estimated that the project will be completed by the end of December, NMDOT Assistant District 5 Engineer for construction Sally Reeves told the Los Alamos Daily Post during Thursday night’s Los Alamos County Transportation Board meeting.

NMDOT officials and other representatives from the project provided an update on the road work to the transportation board.

“It looks like that will be our Christmas present if I am looking at these dates correctly,” Board Chair Kyle Wheeler said during the meeting.

Some in the audience didn’t think it will be much of a present.

Bruce Layman of Verde Ridge read aloud a written statement detailing concerns about the past flooding he and other residents experienced as a result of this road project and their worries that the flooding will occur again. He also touched on the need to construct a light and sound barrier on the state’s road.

Reeves said to address the flooding issues from the Knights of Columbus driveway, Star Paving Company added an earth berm to direct water to an existing drainage system. She added in the final condition, the plans for the bottom of the Knights of Columbus driveway require an asphalt curb that will direct storm water into that same existing drainage system.

“We feel as though the drainage issue has been addressed,” she said.

As for the light/sound barrier, it can’t be done, Reeves said.

This work is occurring on the Knights of Columbus’ private property as part of an agreement made during the condemnation process for the project and NMDOT is not able to add or enhance private property outside of those agreements, she said.

Layman responded saying he and his neighbors started communicating with NMDOT back in December regarding their concerns about the flooding as well as the need for a light and sound barrier. He reported that they never heard anything back until Feb. 18.

“The answer we received back is that no, we are not going to do any light/sound barrier; no, we’re going to do what we got planned for draining and that’s it; and if you don’t like it, we have a grievance process you can go through … it’s not damages that we’re interested in; we’re interested in the job being done right so there are no damages,” Layman said. “And we think with the precedent of flooding … what more do I have to say about that.”

When Layman asked what is the process is that residents can go through to get changes done to the project, Reeves iterated that in a recent letter to him she had directed Layman to the New Mexico General Services Department to file a claim for damages but she doesn’t know what the process to file the claim is or how long the process would take.

Vice Chair Dave Schiferl pressed NMDOT representatives at the meeting to at least give a name Layman could contact.

“Who can tell him what the process is … who is that person … I find this really frustrating and I think it is needlessly frustrating,” he said.

Schiferl did not receive an answer.

Star Paving Company General Superintendent Randy Payment provided information on the next phases of the project.

He said work, which was expected to resume Monday, is going to start at DP Road; workers will begin building on the section of the south side where the roundabout will be located. At the same time, Payment said workers will focus on the stretch of road from Tewa Loop to Canyon Road; they will construct curb, gutter, sub-grade and then workers will pave the road and temporarily stripe it. The same work will be done at DP Road almost to Arroyo Lane, he said.

Payment added, “We’ll pave 15 feet, put traffic on it and then we’ll build through the roundabout … all the way to DP Road where the detour traffic is running now.”

Following this, Payment said traffic will be pushed to the north side and work will start on the south side by Arroyo Lane, then go toward Tewa Loop near the fire station.

Then, a section of Central Avenue will be closed to start building the roundabout. Payment said two lanes, traveling east and west, will be put on Trinity Drive. The roundabout, 4th Street and Central Avenue will be closed. Once this phase is finished, construction will happen on the north side of N.M. 502 from the Canyon Complex up past Canyon Road. A new alignment will be constructed for Canyon Road and Manhattan Loop.

After all that, it is just saw cutting asphalt, constructing medians, landscaping and they’re out of here, Payment said.

Wheeler said she felt this project will be worthwhile for all users.

“This is going to make it safer for pedestrians, it’s going to make it safer for bicyclists,” she said. “This is something the County and department of transportation agreed to do, and I think they will move forward and they will get it done.”