Our recent posts have focused on concept design and alternatives for the State Bridge Road/Medlock Bridge Road intersection as presented by Public Works. The majority of the controversy has centered around the extent to which widening is proposed along Medlock Bridge Road north of the intersection. While the concept display addresses the four directions of the intersection, the alternatives focus entirely on widening Medlock Bridge Road.
Residents have weighed-in on Preserve Johns Creek’s Facebook page as well as our website. Key points made by local resident Royce Reinecke include:
Let us be clear. There were not three alternatives for addressing the State Bridge/Medlock Bridge intersection. There were three alternatives for addressing the Grove Point/St. Ives intersection with 141, and all three alternatives treated the State Bridge/Medlock Bridge intersection the same.
The three alternatives proposed were clearly not serious alternatives and Council has quickly disposed of Alternatives 2 and 3 already. There is really only one alternative proposed to address the State Bridge/Medlock Intersection. There is no cost benefit analysis to accompany this alternative to provide justification for its pursuit.
Information provided by City Staff in an email to Preserve Johns Creek mentioned The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidelines as a point of reference when proposing the extent of widening along Medlock Bridge Road. Mr. Reinecke wrote:
The operative word in the yellow highlighted ASHTO guidelines is "Should", not "Shall." For purposes of complete transparency Public Works should not be presenting a guideline as a requirement. Although it may be preferable to have an extended third lane, St. Ives residents should understand that this is not a requirement. This explains why council member Bradberry has observed a great difference in how driveways are treated at numerous other locations. There are other factors to consider, and as noted in ASHTO, we must recognize that situations are not always ideal.
Public Works should be more precise in presenting their arguments and recommendations as professional opinions for council's consideration, and not as official requirements.
What Considerations are Most Important to Public Works?
We have noted that certain design decisions have been driven by the objective of minimizing any impact to local businesses. One example is the suggestion by Public Works that provision of a dedicated right turn lane north on Medlock Bridge Road to go east on State Bridge Road was not included because it would require the acquisition of land in front of Stoney River Steakhouse. A second example would be stated concerns that closing one of two driveways near the Medlock Corners Car Wash would negatively impact businesses. It would appear that stated concerns for business interests vastly outweigh concerns for local neighborhoods and residents that stand to be negatively impacted by road widening adjacent to their homes. That impression is reinforced by statements to be found in the minutes of a recent meeting of Johns Creek Advantage (JCA). JCA advocates for business interests, and is supported by donations from groups including the City of Johns Creek and CH2M Hill (now Jacobs Engineering), so it should be expected that their meeting minutes would reflect the interests of their constituents. City Manager Warren Hutmacher is a member of the Board of Directors for JCA. In the minutes from the March 28, 2019 JCA Board Meeting, Mr. Hutmacher’s update noted:
A question was asked of Warren about the 141 & State Bridge intersection and he commented that is going to be redeveloped but in the most minimally invasive way to the business area.
Again, JCA is an advocacy group dedicated to business interests in Johns Creek, so the comment was pertinent to those stakeholders. However, no similar statement from city staff can be found stating sensitivity and concern for minimizing impacts to homeowners and residents. On May 6, 2019, a majority of our city council approved a motion by Councilman Bradberry directing Public Works to develop a fourth concept option to minimize the length of widening on Medlock Bridge Road through an advertised process of public engagement. That directive has not been completed. The balance between improving traffic congestion problems, minimizing impacts to businesses, and minimizing negative impacts to residential neighborhoods needs to be re-examined.