Public Works Serves Up Red Herring

Red Herring - a red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue. It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or audiences towards a false conclusion.

Public interest and concern about concept designs for the intersection of State Bridge Road and Medlock Bridge Road reached new heights at the June 3, 2019 City Council Work Session Meeting. Held in the new City Hall Building, the meeting reached overflow capacity as residents packed the room to listen to the discussion between Public Works Director Lynette Baker, City Attorney Ron Bennett, the Mayor, and City Council. It was this discussion that certain points made were described as “red herring” by Councilman John Bradberry. The specific topic brought into question is the driveway on the east side of Medlock Bridge Road north of Club Corners Car Wash.

First Serving of Red Herring

In developing its concepts for the State Bridge/Medlock Bridge intersection, Public Works has chosen to treat the subject driveway as an intersection. By redefining it in this way, GDOT guidelines suggest a much longer section of road before recommending the tapering from three lanes to two lanes. That brings into question the basis upon which the driveway should be considered and treated as an intersection. As it exists today, that driveway only allows for right-in and right-out traffic. Furthermore, it sits less than 400 feet from a driveway to the immediate south that provides access to the same businesses. No objective evidence such as traffic volume or accident incidents that would justify designation as an intersection were cited for this location.

Less than 400’ separate two driveways that provide access to local businesses

Second Serving of Red Herring

Mayor Bodker stated that the city had reached out to local business owners to determine if there was any support for closing the second driveway, and noted that responses indicated that they believed there would be very negative impacts on business if that were to occur. Mayor Bodker and City Attorney Bennett discussed the prospect that the city’s acquisition of that land in order to close the driveway would be consequential as it would have to factor the future value of lost business revenue. It was implied that this would make that option infeasible as a result.

History and Context of this Driveway

The photos above depict the subject driveway at two points in time: 2008 (left) and 2018 (right, and most recent satellite image from Google Earth).

Prior to 2009, there was a median curb cut that allowed southbound traffic on Medlock Bridge Road to take a left turn at this driveway. Indeed, the photo on the left shows several cars taking that route. In 2009, GDOT eliminated that left turn by installing a concrete median all the way to the intersection at State Bridge Road. Interesting note: every satellite photo available in the history timeline of Google Earth after that change does not show any cars using that driveway. Cars that previously used the median cut prior to 2009 now had to either take a left turn onto State Bridge Road to access the shopping center from that entrance, or had to make a U-Turn at the light to go north on Medlock Bridge Road, and take the FIRST driveway entrance to access the shopping center. The vast majority of the economic value of the second, northern driveway was effectively eliminated by GDOT’s closing of the median cut in 2009. The argument that the shopping center will suffer economic harm from closing the northern driveway is either a negotiating tactic by the owners to extract maximum value for a sorely diminished and little used driveway, or a diversion tactic and red herring attempt.

Patterns Repeat Themselves

We’ve seen this strategy before. Claims that, “There’s nothing we can do”, or “This is the best we could manage under the circumstances” - even if those circumstances are built from strawman arguments and tortured logic.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to document and unpack the inconsistencies and contradictions at play in this effort. If you’re not aware, our city’s Public Works Department is outsourced to Jacobs Engineering (formerly CH2M Hill). They need to be aware that their highest priority should be representing the interests of Johns Creek residents, and working and advocating on our behalf and to the benefit of preserving our community. Stay tuned……..

Ed Thompson1 Comment