Sunday, November 30, 2008

Diamond Drive: Before and After

Well, I said I would wait for the barrels to be gone but got impatient to get this post up. So here it is: Diamond Drive recreated. These photos were taken at approximately the same place--about a hundred feet or so West of the golf course crosswalk near 35th Street. The first photo was taken in January of 2004 before work began to improve Diamond Drive, and the second on 28 Nov. 2008, when almost all of the work on Phase II has been completed. Note the bike and ped friendly improvements: bike lanes rather than the ditch, the bus refuge for our new bus system, and the new sidewalks as well as the pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road. And, better signage and oncoming traffic separation. Click on the pics for higher resolution.

Still not sure I admire the huge footprint of the road--most of the time the asphalt is relatively empty; even during rush hour its not so heavy compared to a "real" rush hour, i.e., New York, San Franciso, Albuquerque, Honolulu, etc. I think a three-lane "road diet" would have more than sufficed to move the number of people we have here with minimal inconvenience.

But at least for cyclists and pedestrians, its a considerable improvement to Los Alamos, considering that Diamond Drive connects virtually all of our housing and businesses to each other (see below). This critical "complete streets" improvement should, when all four phases are complete, encourage more cycling without the lane-changing chores for motorists overtaking cyclists, cyclists having concerns of riding in busy vehicle traffic lanes, or cyclists being forced into nasty situations such as that old gutter! Having said that, bike lanes and crosswalks are not magic bullets: cyclists need to exhibit skill to ride safely, peds need to be alert, and motorists must abide by the law and respect other users sharing the roads.

Thanks go out to all of those involved for these improvements going from the drawing board, through the planning process, and out to the asphalt and concrete world.

Red line is Diamond drive, which connects North and Barranca Mesas (upper right) to Western Areas (left) to main downtown and residential areas (lower right) and Hospital/National Laboratory (lower left)

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