How many roads to the same place do we really need? Do we really need four roads to the same place?
#1, we have the Ski Hill road bypass that FEMA money built that connects to West road. [BLUE]
#2, we have West Jemez with the security portals that are working fine. [ORANGE]
#3, we have West Jemez from the Bandelier side. [RED]
We don't need a #4, within a half mile of two of the others? [PINK]
We are talking about saving travelers about a mile of distance. Is saving a mile of travel really worth all this?
There has to be better ways to spend 12 Million Taxpayer Dollars! (No matter where they come from: Local; State or Federal Tax Dollars.)
The cost is actually closer to 14 Million as I have been told that the cost of the Intersection can be dramatically reduced if the Bypass is not part of the project. Simple center median turn lanes can be installed instead of a full scale intersection, saving about 2 million or so on the project.
What are we bypassing?
The DOE/NNSA has already said that if they close the West Jemez security portals to the public in a high security condition that they may also be forced to close the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge crossing and West Road into Los Alamos Canyon, which is their right (it's all DOE land). This would include closing the proposed Bypass Road, if it's built.
In an emergency, if the Lab does NOT close West road then we can use it to bypass the security portals, while the badged Lab employees can continue to use the West Jemez security portals as usual. The amount of traffic using West road would remain relatively low, even in this situation.
The NNSA has already indicated that a new Bypass road is a security issue: At the January 27, 2004 Council Meeting, Mr. Martinez of the NNSA said, "Any bypass road in this area [TA-3] would still be too close to the areas the NNSA was trying to protect." What is going to stop the NNSA from gating the new Bypass, especially after the Science Center is in full swing?
There is just no compelling reason to spend 12+ million taxpayer dollars on a redundant half-mile bypass other than the fact that the momentum to build it is seemingly unstoppable now. Continually pointing out that we have spent great effort getting this far, is not a valid reason to continue, if the payoff for this project is so small, compared to the huge effort and large sums of money yet to be expended on this project. We have plenty of good ways to get to our Jemez Mountain destinations and to our Ski Hill today without destroying a side canyon with fill and pavement.
The Ski Hill was having a bang up year until the snow stopped. People are not having trouble getting there, even out of towners. The critical need of the Ski Hill is SNOW and not four different ways to get to the ski hill. Investing in snow making capability will provide a much bigger economic payoff for our County than building another Bypass.
The Los Alamos Business community should be very leery of being "Bypassed." If we build the bypass connector, we are likely to inadvertently make Totavi the "gateway" to the Jemez Mountains, as this Bypass road will tend to shoot visitors right up and down the Truck route, completely "bypassing" Los Alamos, Bypassing our stores, Bypassing our gas stations and Bypassing our restaurants. Maintaining West Road as our one Bypass will tend to lead many visitors through Los Alamos where our business community will have a decent shot at capturing more tourist dollars.
And to make matters worse, if we do build the Bypass, the NNSA has indicated that they will close West road beyond the Ice Rink and Reservoir access road. This closure will eliminate the most enjoyable route we have to our Jemez Mountain Destinations. Why would we want to take a perfectly fine road, have it closed and then destroy a large swath of open space to build a new road that goes to basically the SAME PLACE? Is this an environmentally sound policy?
Let's not bulldoze more forest to build a road of dubious value to our County. Let's resurface the neglected West road, let's improve the Ice Rink parking, let's improve the signage to assist visitors in finding their way around, let's help get snow making installed at Pajarito and let's build an improved intersection for the Research Park, if that's whats needed.
And consider the mountain roads that we drive to visit our beloved Jemez Destinations. West road, in it's current dilapidated condition, is still a better road design than the ultra steep portions of Camp May road and the crazy hairpin curve and inclines going up Hwy 4 from West Gate. Ironically, West road is the good part of these trips!
Two years of use as our Bypass has proven West Road's utility as our only necessary bypass road.