City Staff Responds to Preserve Johns Creek Post

In the interest of full disclosure, and to provide an opposing position, we offer an email sent to Preserve Johns Creek from City Manager Warren Hutmacher followed by our response. This email was sent after the post titled, “Public Works Serves Up Red Herring” was published on June 6, 2019, and subsequently communicated in the Preserve Johns Creek email newsletter (subscribe here).


Fwd: Definition of driveway as an intersection

From: Warren Hutmacher
Sat, Jun 8, 2:25 PM
To: Preserve Johns Creek, ElectedOfficials@johnscreekgov.ga, Lynette.Baker@johnscreekga.gov

Ed

I wanted to provide you some information regarding how the City came to treat the driveways along 141 as “intersections”.  We don’t make it up as we go. We base our engineering recommendations on established formal guidelines.  

Thanks

Warren
Warren Hutmacher
City Manager

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lynette Baker <Lynette.Baker@johnscreekga.gov>
Date: June 7, 2019 at 4:58:32 PM EDT
To: Warren Hutmacher <Warren.Hutmacher@johnscreekga.gov>, Bob Mullen <Bob.Mullen@johnscreekga.gov>
Subject: Definition of driveway as an intersection

Regarding our discussion and the article on the Post: Attached is the page from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidelines that describes how driveways should be treated as intersections.


Our response to the note from City Manager Hutmacher follows:

Ed Thompson <preservejohnscreek@gmail.com>

Sat, Jun 8, 10:47 PM

to Warren, Elected, Lynette

Warren,
Thank you for your note.

There are a few points pertinent to this topic.

  1. The GDOT Design Policy Manual states that driveways may be considered as low level intersections.  The adjective/modifier description "low level" implies a different status compared to a busy intersection such as State Bridge Road/Medlock Bridge Road, yet it appears that Public Works is treating driveways using the same criteria as for a major intersection.

  2. I do not recall any early discussions of the State Bridge Road/Medlock Bridge Road intersection improvement concepts making any mention of the driveways being treated as intersections.  That language only entered the conversation once residents and the St. Ives HOA began to register their concerns about overly intrusive design concepts.

  3. In the letter to St. Ives HOA, it was stated that Public Works "decided" to treat the driveways as intersections.  That sounds an awfully lot like retroactively looking for a reason for a previously stated conclusion.

  4. Discussions mentioned that no additional pavement would be necessary to increase capacity from two to three lanes, but I believe that there are guidelines that suggest some minimum shoulder width accommodation that would require additional pavement.  If we are going to consider AASHTO as our guildine, please review Section 4.4.2 Width of Shoulders and let me know if I am mistaken in my reading, or if we are selectively choosing to cite guidelines when convenient.  I think we should also understand any implications that line of sight and other clearances may have so that everyone is aware before any project moves forward.

  5. The designation and treatment of driveways as intersections, and the consistent application of that definition including minimum transition distances is not evident throughout our city.  Indeed, there are many examples where this has not been the case on both State Roads as well as other roads that had GDOT involvement.

I appreciate the work and effort focused on improving traffic congestion in Johns Creek, but I find that inconsistencies abound and there seems to be a rush to projects that will have an outsized and negative impact to residential neighborhoods and families.  As I stated in my Public Comment this past Monday, I have 22 years of history, context, and experience traveling this route at peak times.  The very simple change southbound on Medlock Bridge Road that converted the right turn only lane to a dual purpose right and straight through has had a very positive impact on morning traffic.  The afternoon commute northbound could see a similar positive effect with a less far-reaching widening effort.  

It's important to take into account that the GDOT Design Policy Manual states that, 

"This document was developed as part of the continuing effort to provide guidance within the Georgia Department of Transportation in fulfilling its mission to provide a safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation system through dedicated teamwork and responsible leadership supporting economic development, environmental sensitivity and improved quality of life. This document is not intended to establish policy within the Department, but to provide guidance in adhering to the policies of the Department."

The manual is meant to provide GUIDANCE.  It is the responsibility of our Public Works Department, City Staff, and Elected Officials to provide PRUDENCE.  I have not seen any evidence or objective analysis demonstrating that widening Medlock Bridge Road for approximately 1,800 feet (including tapering) will deliver significantly better results than a less intrusive alternative.  Neighbors, residents, and much of our own City Council have expressed their concerns as well.  Under the circumstances, forcing an outcome against the desires of adjacent residential neighborhoods and families does not seem to be good policy.

Best Regards:
Ed Thompson
Preserve Johns Creek
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Ed Thompson1 Comment