On Monday March 2nd, County Council will hold a special session to discuss the proposed Bypass Road (Los Alamos Community Building at Ashley Pond, 7pm).

A Walk-Through of the Bypass area will be held on Sunday,February 22nd, 2pm at the Research Park.

Please help by coming to the March 2nd meeting and expressing your opinion and emailing/calling Councilors and let them know you are against the Redundant Bypass. [Email Addresses are found at the end of this blog.]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Odds and Ends

Reasons to not build the Bypass Road:

-We don't need another route to the Jemez Mountain destinations
(three is plenty).

-Uses up more open space unnecessarily.

-Disrupts and fragments environment/habitat of Research Park property.

-Two winter seasons have shown us that the current road configuration is working.

-The lab has indicated they will close West Road if the County builds the Bypass.

-Makes Totavi the gateway to the Jemez and "Bypasses" Los Alamos.

-Too Costly: 12+ Million for a half mile road? (Does not include the 3+ million for the intersection, which would be cut by about 1/3 if there is no Bypass built).

Have the Citizens of Los Alamos been bamboozled into building a road that primarily benefits the lab? A road that the Lab itself rejected as too costly to build?

"Obama warns mayors on waste of stimulus money," Boston Globe, February 21st, 2009:
"We cannot tolerate business as usual - not in Washington, not in our state capitals, not in America's cities and towns," Obama continued. "If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it. And I want everybody here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it."

Despite it's wealth of land further South, the Lab is steadily, each year, moving more of it's operations closer and closer to the rim of Los Alamos Canyon. The new National Security Sciences Building (NSSB) and the NNSA Los Alamos Site Office were both built next to State Hwy 501 (West Jemez Road), leading to the installation of the security portals on 501. Plans are underway to build a Science Center accessible from West Jemez Road, inside the Security Checkpoints. This complex will house secure and non-secure functions and is designed to move employees from old crumbling facilities further South to these new facilities closer to the rim. If the County builds this Bypass on DOE land, the Bypass runs the risk of suffering the same fate as State Route 501. Building County roads on DOE lands is risky, given the trend of the Lab moving more functions closer to the rim of Los Alamos Canyon. At some point, the Lab/DOE may declare a high level emergency and restrict access to their entire property, including rim areas, especially after the new Science Center is built and staffed with Employees that must be protected. The Lab may be transferred to the Pentagon where security would undoubtedly be ratcheted up greatly while the current collaborative and collegial atmosphere is reduced. If we truly wish to create a Bypass that we can rely on long term, it must be built on non-DOE property. But for the time being, West Road is perfectly adequate and can buy us time to study the current situation, to determine the Labs intentions and to acquire property if necessary.


Proponents of the Bypass point out that some tourists are having a difficult time at the security portals and they turn around. I believe this issue can be easily solved with proper signage (12 Million will buy a lot of nice signs). Right now there are big signs at the portals that say "Visitors Welcome." These signs are causing much of the problem. A copier repair man is a "Visitor" to the lab, tourists and travelers are not visitors. Some tourists see this sign and immediately feel that they are in the wrong place. They wonder if they made a wrong turn and ended up at a a National Lab that welcomes visitors. They do not want to approach the portals, they are just trying to point B on their map. Instead they turn around confused. They don't want to have to explain to a security guard why they are a "visitor" to a National Nuclear Weapons Laboratory when all they really want to do is to get to their destination. My Mom told me these signs would confuse her if she was from out of town. These are the types of signs you would see outside of any business compound and are very Tourist/Traveler unfriendly and confusing.

I'm no expert on signs, but the sign should instead say something such as "Thru Traffic May Proceed." This way tourists unfamiliar with the area will realize that it's OK to go through the gates, even if they are not technically "visitors" to lab. The word "Visitors" implies something completely different to tourists then the sign designers intended and is intimidating to tourists.

Also needed are couple signs at the Camp May Road / West Jemez intersection that point to the "Alternate Route" to Los Alamos for those who don't want to go through the Security Portal (and some addition signs along the route).

We can fix this with much better signs or we can spend 12+ million on the Bypass.
So as Oscar Rogers from SNL would say, let's FIX IT.

The County's Public Works Projects - West Jemez Bypass webpage states:

"The County is obligated to construct its portion of the bypass by 2011."

The County is NOT obligated to build a bypass road. The 2011 deadline is based on the April 2006 settlement agreement with the DOE that states:

"Any easement or easements that DOE/NNSA grants to the County to construct this connector bypass road will revert to DOE/NNSA if the County does not begin construction of the road in earnest within 5 years from the date of execution of this Settlement Agreement."

The settlement does not create an obligation on the Countys part to build the road, but only an option to begin building it in earnest by April 2011, after which the option granted by the settlement will expire.

You can view the entire settlement HERE (note this is a large 10 meg pdf file).

A good source of LANL related NEPA documents is found here:

Here is an interesting quote from Mr. Martinez, NNSA, at the January 27,2004 Council Meeting, "Any bypass road in this area [TA-3] would still be too close to the areas the NNSA was trying to protect." So it seems that, at least at that time, the NNSA felt the Bypass road was a security risk. Wow! Did we force the Bypass upon the NNSA? How do they feel now? This indicates to me that the NNSA would be much more likely to close down the proposed new Bypass then the Ski Hill / West Road Bypass.

Please contact your Councilors and let them know that you are against the Redundant Bypass. Here are their email addresses for you to paste into your email:

phelpsquest@earthlink.net, sstover@cybermesa.com, rgibson@swcp.com, vince@chiravalleforcouncil.com, nbowman@cybermesa.com, mwismer@losalamos.com, wheels@newmexico.com

If you have suggestions on things I have missed please let me know. I am relying on the public to bring up other issues that I have not covered here. There are many.

My normal blog can be found at:

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