Johns Creek Rolls Out the Road Widening Trojan Horse

Johns Creek City Staff held a Public Input Meeting on Tuesday April 23, 2019 to present three concepts to improve the State Bridge Road/Medlock Bridge Road SR 141 intersection. Subsequent to the meeting, a survey link was provided to ask residents to provide their input to those options presented.

In all three options, lane capacity is expanded from two to three lanes. Lane expansion along Medlock Bridge extends from the intersection of State Bridge Road to Grove Point Road/St. Ives Country Club Parkway. The third option extends a third lane even further north. State Bridge Road would also be widened with three lanes being proposed immediately adjacent to the Newhaven subdivision.

If the intent of this proposal is to improve intersection efficiency and throughput, it would seem that extending three lanes would be appropriate up to the point where Crossing Way and the access road near the car wash by Medlock Corners Shopping Center meets Medlock Bridge Road.

Road widening in Johns Creek has been a contentious subject for the past several years. There is no denying the fact that road congestion is a major factor affecting local quality of life. It is the approach toward addressing road congestion that has been in dispute. Without a comprehensive plan to address congestion along the entire corridor, isolated efforts to increase capacity will simply result in more vehicles sitting between choke points.

As we have documented before (here and here), neither Peachtree Corners or Forsyth County have any plans to widen their portions of the 141 corridor. The negative consequences of uncoordinated capacity increases are documented here, as additional capacity attracts additional load until the new capacity is quickly consumed.

Past efforts to push through road widening have been vigorously opposed by residents, and subsequently put on hold. What we’re witnessing now is a Trojan Horse attempt to incrementally drive toward road widening under the guise of intersection improvement. It’s also likely that word parsing will be attempted as the proposed capacity increase will claim that it is not a widening effort, simply a re-striping of existing asphalt.

Efforts to mute resident opposition is clearly evident in the structure of the survey. Similar to past surveys conducted by the city, alternatives are limited to those presented by Staff, and include no option to select “None of the above” as a preference. As a result, the only path for those who may oppose the concepts is a vote for the “least bad” option, or to opt out of responding at all. Without a doubt, whatever “least bad” option selected will be touted as having the “support” of the community.

Several City Council Members have expressed their concerns with the process being followed in this effort, and have officially registered those concerns with their peers, City Manager Warren Hutmacher, and Public Works Director Lynette Baker. Time will tell if the voice of residents will be given any weight in decisions being made the will unalterably affect the suburban residential character of our community.

Ed Thompson5 Comments