3,353 Page Study on How To Make a Bad Situation Worse
Johns Creek City Council members have been presented a 3,353 pages documenting potential changes to the intersection of Medlock Bridge Road and State Bridge Road. It is anticipated that this topic will be included in the Work Session agenda to be held on Thursday January 17, 2019. For those interested in attending the meeting, it’s important to note that this meeting is not being held on Monday as is typical, but is later in the week.
One option that is featured in the proposed options is the Michigan Thru-U, or Michigan Left. The introduction of this approach would eliminate left hand turns, and instead require the driver to pass through an intersection and make a U-turn at a point beyond where they would have previously taken a left turn, then move to the far right side to take a right turn at the desired intersection.
In order to operate, this design will require additional traffic lights to allow traffic to make the required U-turn and move to the far right without having to navigate through dense traffic. Accommodating this design will require road widening to build lanes for U-turns, and to make sure there is enough capacity in right turn lanes at the major intersection. Due to the tight turning radius involved where Michigan Thru-U are proposed, it would appear to require the acquisition of currently occupied property - for example, the Wells Fargo bank and adjacent car wash on the east side of northbound Medlock Bridge Road.
Previous proposals to add Michigan Thru-U turns in Johns Creek were vehemently opposed by residents and subsequently abandoned. Resident opposition focused on several factors, including consideration that in Michigan where these turns are common, they are not used on intersections that are composed of all primary roads (they may be used with one primary road and one secondary road), that the proposed approach simply shifts congestion points elsewhere, and the fact that this approach would introduce a new traffic pattern not used anywhere else in Georgia, resulting in confusion and complexity that would only make travel through Johns Creek more difficult.
In contrast to options that have received preference in the 3,353 page report, at least one option that would have less negative impacts while still delivering intersection capacity and efficiency improvements is overlooked. Adding a third lane through the intersection along with an additional left turn lane would have the effect of increasing intersection capacity by 50%, and allow reduced red light wait time as a result. Instead, the report focuses on five options that appear to be designed to make the Michigan Thru-U seem more reasonable in comparison. We’ve seen other instances where reports and studies seem designed to lead to a foregone conclusion, and unfortunately, this report follows that pattern.
It’s clear that traffic flow efficiency through the major intersection in Johns Creek must improve. However, some of the options being presented will have the dual impact of harming the suburban residential character of Johns Creek, and making travel more complex and challenging. There are other options to achieve the necessary congestion relief that will not impose the same challenges, and we encourage our City Council members to work through this process with all due consideration.