Bradberry Finds the Smoking Gun
Recent debates about the Public Works Design Deviation Request to reduce lane width from 12-feet to 11-feet along Medlock Bridge Road have generated widespread resident involvement. Public Works along with the Mayor and several City Council Members defended the request as an important public safety measure necessary to set conditions that would allow for a subsequent effort to reduce the speed limit on the entire corridor to a consistent 45 MPH. More skeptical residents feared that the request was instead a backdoor effort to lay the foundation for a third lane in each direction on Medlock Bridge Road.
Skeptics Were Right to be Concerned
At the City Council Meeting on Monday August 19, 2019, the skeptics were proven to be rightly concerned. At that meeting, Councilman John Bradberry shared the Public Works memo that clearly identifies the request for lane width reduction for what it is:
The project will involve repaving and restriping Medlock Bridge Road from two 12-foot lanes with a 9-foot paved shoulder to two 11-foot lanes with an 11-foot paved shoulder in each direction. The narrowed lanes would allow for development of a future travel lane in each direction with minimal impacts to property or utilities.
View and download the full Public Works memo at this link.
Repositioning the Truth
The cited Public Works Memo is dated April 10, 2019. A previously released memo that was issued under the letterhead of Wolverton and Associates is dated May 3, 2019 and is substantially composed of the same content with one important difference - reference to a third lane has been removed from that memo. Instead, the Wolverton memo cites the request on a basis of being a traffic calming measure. This is the critical change that was used to position the design deviation request as a Public Safety measure rather than a precursor to adding a third lane in each direction on Medlock Bridge Road.
Searching for the Needle in a Haystack
From a timeline perspective, the Wolverton memo and it’s premise of traffic calming first came to public attention after it was obtained through a resident’s request via the Freedom of Information Act. It was not shared with Johns Creek’s City Council prior to the FOIA request.
The Public Works memo that based the lane width reduction on adding lanes to Medlock Bridge Road was brought to light during Monday’s City Council Meeting. It was obtained by Councilman Bradberry after he requested all internal communication regarding information related to road projects along Medlock Bridge Road/SR141. Councilman Bradberry had to sort through thousands of emails, memorandums, and communications to ultimately find the memo dated April 10, 2019. He stated during the meeting that he first read that memo at 3:00 AM of the morning of the City Council Meeting.
Resident Input and Responses
Residents sent many emails to City Council stating their concerns about lane width reduction, and the perception that the move was really intended to prepare the corridor for additional traffic lanes. Some of the responses to residents made assurances that a third lane was not true. One Councilman’s response to a resident included the statement:
The majority of the emails received by City Council members link the implementation of 11 foot lanes to addition of a 3rd lane in each direction. This “trojan horse” argument is simply not true. There is no support on Council for 6 lanes on Medlock Bridge. Council Member Endres’ earlier resolution specifically states that the widening of 141 should be viewed as a policy decision of the City Council and it is not a decision to be made by staff. It’s a very reasonable resolution with an important statement.
We certainly do not believe this was a willfully misleading statement by the Councilman, but it is troubling nonetheless. Our elected representatives are not being provided timely and accurate information. Instead, residents and individual Council Members are having to conduct their own fact-finding missions to try and determine what is being done in the dark of night and behind closed doors. The newly revealed April 10, 2019 memo clearly states the intent of the Design Deviation Request to be the addition of a third traffic lane., and thus the “trojan horse” argument has now been revealed as a concern that warranted legitimate resident concerns. That memo made no reference to “traffic calming” or “Public Safety”. The true, original intent of the Design Deviation Request has been revealed as preparation for adding traffic lanes to Medlock Bridge Road, contrary to assurances otherwise.
A sincere thanks to Council Members Bradberry, Coughlin, and Endres for their continued pursuit of their Joint Resolution, and to Councilman Bradberry for his diligence in researching the truth for our residents. Absent his work, the Joint Resolution was likely heading to a 4-3 defeat. In the light of more complete information, the full Council deserves our thanks as well for their unanimous support of the final Joint Resolution. Monday night was a victory for our residents and community. It was also a reminder that we need to remain vigilant if we hope to maintain the premier residential nature of our community.