How to Move Forward on Traffic
Traffic is the single greatest factor affecting our residents' quality of life. We need to think critically about the effects that each project will have on OUR residents and the effects of every zoning decision on traffic.
We need to acknowledge the direct correlation between increased, high density development and increased traffic volume and associated congestion. New developments should include an independent impact assessment (traffic, schools, city services, etc.) so that the cost burdens that are necessarily passed along to Johns Creek residents are fully considered in decision-making. We should also consider the introduction of impact fees to cover those costs rather than passing them through to current residents.
The recent Transportation Town Hall Meeting presented some options based on the assumption that the population of Johns Creek would roughly double in the next twenty years. That assumption pre-supposes that development will be allowed to proceed at a rate that would DOUBLE our current housing inventory. Do our residents agree with that assumption as a desirable state over the next 20 years? I certainly do not!
We need to identify the specifics of our traffic problems. We need to analyze why the specific problems are occurring and identify the potential solutions. Next, we need to model and determine the effects of each alternative and select the BEST options for OUR community. After we implement any of these projects, we should evaluate and monitor our progress with metrics to ascertain objectively how well the projects are addressing the original problem. With so much taxpayer time and money at stake, we owe it to our taxpayers and drivers to follow a better process that inspires greater confidence and arrives at a better end-result.
Regarding the proposed widening of Jones Bridge Road and 141, these projects do not meet the above standards. We do not have enough information to consider widening these roads. The City has admitted that it does not know the consequences of widening Jones Bridge or 141. We had two lanes on 141 and widened to four lanes and we see what happened. If we widen from four lanes to six, what do you think our expectation should be? Don't we need to understand how these big changes are going to impact us before they potentially hurt our community more than help it?
There are many fundamental questions regarding our traffic situation that need to be asked. How much over-capacity are we on Jones Bridge Rd, 141 etc? Who are these changes going to benefit? What changes should be made to benefit our residents first? Are the bottlenecks caused by insufficient road capacity, or inefficient intersections? Will the intersections not need to be addressed regardless of widening the main thoroughfares? If so, could we do these first and see if we still need to widen the roads? Lastly, when McGinnis Ferry Road is widened and its new interchange with GA400 is completed, what pressure will that take off the other roads like Jones Bridge and 141?
I believe it is important that we stop encouraging the development of cut-through highways. To me, it is foolish that we are considering widening our part of 141 when Peachtree Corners has no plans to widen theirs. We will simply create more congestion if we widen our roads that funnel to sections that cannot handle additional capacity. That approach will leave us increasingly frustrated, and will further degrade a basic quality of life issue and impact the desirability of our community.
There are many credible, viable alternatives to widening that can alleviate traffic that also protect our residential character. Why have we still not adjusted the right turn only lanes at 141 and State Bridge into dual purpose (go straight or turn right capable)? These are improvements that would cost little and allow for a 45% increase in the amount of cars able to go through the intersection during a green light.
These improvements above were recommended that Preserve Johns Creek as alternatives to widening at the beginning of the year. We were told that these would be modeled and evaluated. To date, nothing has been done. As your Councilperson, I will follow-up on this and also work to ensure that the City gets behind Chris Coughlin's Traffic Task Force.
Regardless of what projects move forward, we need to include performance measures in construction contracts. No longer should we just evaluate bids based solely on costs but also based on time and performance.
We need to prioritize our resources and focus our attention on the basics of this problem. Since traffic is the single greatest issue we face, I would like to see us forego or curtail other spending that is more ancillary so that we can fully optimize our traffic lights. Only 17% of our lights in Johns Creek are tied to an intelligent management system. Of those that are connected, they do not have the capability to make changes based on data from other intersections. This is a huge opportunity for improvement. We need the best technology that is practically available.
I have been and will continue to be a watchdog for accountability, common sense, and practicality in traffic relief.