Monday, January 30, 2012

Its....Construction Season!!!

Ah, yes. For those of you who like to do the Bandelier Loop or who ride to the Jemez from the valley and beyond, get ready for more exciting hijinks on New Mexico State Rt. 4 in White Rock as the road crews start their seasonal fun on the long awaited upgrade of New Mexico State Rt. 4 through White Rock, where New Mexico Route 4 will be rebuilt from Rover to Pajarito Road.

Los Alamos County page on NM4 construction has just been updated (2-3-12): According to the initial traffic control plan submittal, work will be accomplished in phases. As the contractor begins work on the south side of the roadway, traffic will be detoured to the north side and restricted to one lane in each direction – there is not enough room to maintain designated turn lanes so please use caution and watch for stopped traffic waiting to make left turns. Expect typical construction activities such as truck traffic, heavy equipment, noise, dust and delays. The Atomic City Transit bus stops along NM4 may need to be adjusted as the work zone is established; however, information will be distributed on the bus and through the Atomic City website ( Pedestrian access will be maintained.

Traffic control restrictions for NM4 include providing a minimum of one lane of traffic in each direction at all times during construction and non-holiday weekends from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Weekday flagging operations will be allowed between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The above restrictions will help minimize construction traffic delays during peak traffic hours, though delays will still be experienced.  Once construction starts, the project website will be updated weekly to reflect traffic conditions expected the following week. Subscribe to receive electronic updates by visiting
NOTE: There is not at this time (and probably will not be) any requirement for cyclists to avoid the work zone. Cyclists who ride this route are usually pretty saavy. But, I can almost guarantee there is going to be someone riding through there hammering on the drops, oblivious to reality, and tempting a construction worker to swing a shovel in his general direction.  Umm...please don't be that person. You have to realize it’s going to be a construction zone and use due care. That also means no riding as a peloton through a construction zone as though it were not there. But has the Tour de Los Alamos been briefed on this?
Lets avoid this
as much as possible

As far as alternate routes. Frankly, it would be far more peaceful to avoid the construction zone when it is busy. So here are some suggestions that are not too indirect.  Go to Google maps and follow me here. Or, try to use this map below if it has enough resolution.  There are some ways to loop through White Rock for those who want to do so without going all the way to the southeast end of things.  Reverse these directions if you are headed west to east.

 (the following modified on 2-8-12)

The simplest option to avoid the construction zone for its whole length is marked in blue on the top map below. Heading West on Rt 4, turn left at Rover. Take Rover to Grand Canyon and turn right on Grand Canyon. Take Grand Canyon to Sherwood and turn left on Sherwood. Take Sherwood to where it ends at Piedra Loop and turn right. Take Piedra back to NM4. Depending on construction, you can continue on Grand Canyon rather than turning onto Sherwood and you will come out at Pajarito Road.

Other ways to go. You can make an immediate right form Rover onto Longview,  wend your way through the Ghost Town, i.e., the White Rock business district, turn right on Sherwood, and come out by Smiths on NM4, esp. if you are hungry. For this, follow the red line. Or you can turn left instead of right on Sherwood from Longview (or stay on Rover and turn right on Aztec and left on Sherwood), go south to Grand Canyon, turn right on Grand Canyon, and take it to NM-4 where Grand Canyon hits NM-4 at Pajarito Road. Those are the green sections. 

If you turn left instead of right from Sherwood at Piedra Loop (blue lines), you can do a looping and quite scenic Tour de Pajarito Acres and come out on Monterey Ave North or South. I'll leave that to your imagination and your study of the second Google Map below.  These could be marked as alternate bike routes.  Probably a good idea.  Plus, you obviously have to be on PART of the construction zone since it starts just east of Rover and goes to just west of Pajarito. This is rural New Mexico. There ain't too many options.  

If you use the multiuse path on the south/east side of NM-4 between Sherwood and Monte Rey South, please keep speeds low! That path is not designed for high speed road biking and is quite popular with the casual cyclists, walkers, and joggers of White Rock. 

Thanks, and feel free to provide feedback on this in the comments option..
Google Map. Click to enlarge
Based on my 2-16-12 observations, blue route is best
Pajarito Acres section

Just remember: be careful out there.


Rick and Lisa said...

Does anybody know if they're ever thinking of repaving NM4 from White Rock to the Truck Route and perhaps providing us cyclists with some much-needed shoulders in the process? As everyone already knows, there can't be a more unsafe section of road in all of Los Alamos!

Khal said...

They would presumably be the New Mexico Dept. of Transportation. You might want to look up the district engineer for our area and ask. Alternatively, call or email our representative, Jim Hall, who would probably be quite responsive.

District 5: