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Letter To The Editor: A Grand Experiment

on March 30, 2016 - 12:10pm
Los Alamos
Guinea pigs. That's what we are going to be next year when the new roundabout is built at the intersection of Trinity and Central just east of the Hilltop House.
It will be a grand experiment to see how well we can learn new tricks. Of course, it will impact more than just Los Alamos residents. Commuters and visitors will also need to learn the new rules and develop new skills.

I'm not for or against roundabouts per se. They obviously work smoothly in other parts of the world. European friends tell me that driver training taught them how to negotiate a roundabout and that they aren't a problem. But in the United States they are perhaps more of a challenge or maybe we, the drivers, are challenged by roundabouts.

Roundabouts in Florida and New Jersey are not working well and have been slated for removal because Americans don't know how to handle them. Here in Los Alamos it's not just residents who will be involved. Over time we have mostly learned how to handle the roundabout when Barranca and North Mesas join Diamond Drive. 

However, a major roundabout at the primary entrance to Los Alamos is another matter. I predict there will be a number of accidents as drivers miscalculate how to meet the challenge. You have probably remarked on the number of young, hot-shot drivers who love speed. The new roundabout is supposed to slow them down, but guess what? They are going to defy all odds.

Welcome to Los Alamos! Visitors who have survived the cliff-hanger road up to the top of the mesa will be in for another rude shock, as they approach town from the east and encounter another obstacle course.

Large trucks and emergency vehicles will also face an obstacle course if the roundabout is built at Trinity and Central. We're just asking for accidents to happen. What if we ever have to evacuate town again, heaven forbid? We'll manage. So did the early inhabitants of Los Alamos with all the hassles of life on the mesa. But do we really want to do this to ourselves?

Most of the arguments I have seen against building a roundabout at Trinity and Central have been technical. They are reasonable arguments. There are also financial arguments against spending millions of dollars to build a big mistake and then having to pay once more to have it removed. 

Friends, this just doesn't make sense. A roundabout at Trinity and Central or anywhere else along our major arteries is not in our best interests. This grand experiment is going to be a major headache.