Saturday, September 4, 2010

W. Jemez and Pajarito repave: no more shoulder lips

The Bicycling Coalition of NM and the Los Alamos County Transportation Board have both been critical of the NMDOT and DOE/LANL past practice of partial shoulder paving, i.e., putting the final layer of new pavement only onto the travel lanes and often ending it halfway onto the road shoulder where it forms a lip or edge. This technique, used rarely in the U.S., may save a few bucks but often makes the shoulder impassible or hazardous to cyclists and motorcyclists because the lip can disrupt steering. Good examples of this technique can be found all across NM-4 in the Jemez Mountains, where the lip at times becomes a veritable cliff, and on some parts of Truck Route. Riders on NM4 in the Jemez, for example, have no choice but to use the travel lane whether they want to or not.

Thankfully, it seems that the folks now in charge of roadway maintenance at LANL have stopped using this technique. The new pavement being installed on W. Jemez and Pajarito Road goes edge to edge, leaving a safe, smooth, fast shoulder to bicycle on.

As others have said on the pajarito-riders bike list, "Thank You!" to LANL/DOE for thinking of all of us!


Jon said...

Lower Pajarito has been done edge-to-edge (and very nicely); I presume the upper sections and W. Jemez will get the separate shoulder overlay?

Sadly this practice is no longer quite so uncommon in the US. Maine and New Hampshire are both doing it. At least the US2 reconstruction appears to be full-width, but NH has been partial-paving popular bicycle routes where no alternative exists, such as US302 through Crawford Notch. I'm not sure if it's coincidence of timing, but it seems connected to ARRA projects. (There have also been instances of ARRA money going to milling rumble strips on shoulders too narrow for it to do any good for run-offs but plenty of harm for cyclists.) If DOT is serious about including nonmotorized transportation, they should look at what they're funding.

Tip of the helmet to those who are still doing the Right Thing, including DOE and the County.

Greg Kendall said...

I am so glad to hear this. I have avoided riding down the truck route ever since it got partial paved.

What did they end up doing on the high road?

Khal said...

High road???

There are multiple jurisdictions here, which adds to the problem of who to credit and who to blame.