Traffic and Misconceptions in Johns Creek

Below is a letter I sent to the City Council of Johns Creek in September of 2015.  I will also post the City’s response and my follow-up in additional posts.
Johns Creek City Council,
I watched the work session and heard the discussions once again on traffic on 9/9/2015.  I hear repeatedly the increase we have had in traffic is from outside our city and that is the primary reason for our congestion.  I have heard it stated much of this traffic is coming from Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties.
Frankly, that is an easy answer for most people to hear and believe to be true. It’s been repeated enough that people believe it to be true without question.  Is it true, however?  What if it is entirely wrong?
I do not think we are being purposely misled on traffic.  Instead, we are choosing the standard answers that we have heard in years past over and over that made sense.  But that does not mean that they are the correct answers.
I have shared this information with two of our council members in the past.  Unfortunately, I did not receive any feedback, and based on comments stated at the meetings I have observed, it has either been overlooked or dismissed entirely.   Yet we are making multi-million dollar decisions on roads and the future shape of travel in Johns Creek.
Here’s what we do know: 1) Our population has increased sharply since 2000.  2) Traffic volumes have not.
If the GDOT data is correct, then we would have to have a shift away from “through traffic” and if our population has increased, then more of our trips would be originating here in Johns Creek, for us to have relatively stable and flat traffic volumes.
Below are the Georgia DOT traffic counts over the last twenty plus years at the sites where the DOT takes annual measurements.  Please take a look at this data, and if you have better data, it should be shared.
The five links below represent the annual traffic surveys by the Georgia DOT on 141 just south of the river through Johns Creek, and ending in Forsyth County.  I invite you to look at each station.  Where are these increases that have lead to our severe congestion during rush hours?
None of these traffic monitoring stations confirm what is being said as to why traffic is worse in Johns Creek.  I have looked at traffic from the Georgia DOT along State Bridge Road, 120, and other major roads in Johns Creek.  I know and understand what GDOT says are the trends on these roads.  I have also looked at surrounding communities, such as Peachtree Industrial Blvd and Pleasant Hill Road, to see what is happening outside of our cities. All of these data points paint a very different picture about traffic.
Is the Georgia DOT wrong?  Do we just dismiss this data because it does not fit with our beliefs?  Should we let traffic myths drive our decisions?
Or do we have another reason for why traffic is so tied up here?   Are you willing to objectively look at it before we spend millions upon millions of dollars on solutions?
More than a fast solution, we need the right solution.  And if we spend millions attempting to resolve the wrong problem, what will that solve?
If we do not have good data, we will not have good decisions being made.  What data is being used to support the idea that our problems are coming from through traffic?
Better results demand better analysis.  I suggest that means giving us a clear picture of where we were, where we are, and where we are headed when it comes to proposed solutions.  And I just do not see that when it comes to traffic.
The Georgia DOT gives us a pretty good view of where we were, and where we are.  From there we can make educated guesses as to where we are headed.  This data from the GDOT is available to anyone that wants to look at it, see what it says, and even question it.  One data point you can dismiss.  But how can you dismiss them all?
I have looked at this data.
Will you?
I look forward to a reply.
Respectfully,
Ernest Moosa
Once you click on the link, you will then need to click on Annual Statistics.  The data is presented both numerically and graphically.

MARTA: It’s Not About Racism-It’s About the Math

MARTA_trainSince the beginning of the Mass Transit era in the Atlanta metropolitan area, I’ve constantly heard the arguments that the reason people were against the transit system was racism.

This is usually the moment that the local politician or commentator makes the statement about how people feared that their homes would be broken into and their tv set stolen and taken away on a bus or train. It’s a tired example, and an inaccurate example. Continue reading

My Letter to the Johns Creek City Council on the Bell Road Rezoning Case for High Density Apartments

Council Members:
I am asking you to vote against the rezoning of the properties located at Bell Road and 141, which is on tonight’s agenda.
This location has become another Ground Zero for gridlock in Johns Creek.  We now have four traffic lights over .7 miles, from Skyway Drive north to Johns Creek Parkway.  During morning and evening rush hours, I have used Google maps to track the commute times through this area and the average time to travel this very short distance averages 8-9 minutes, and I have seen it as high as 11 minutes to get through the four lights.  That is less than 10 miles per hour through this area.  Normal travel should be three minutes, according to Google.  As the City also uses Waze(a Google product), I hope that you accept that data as accurate.
The much higher density that the rezoning will allow will only make this issue worse.  Anecdotal suggestions that this development will not make things worse are not fact based.  We do not know exactly what or how the tenants that choose to live there will act on a day to day basis.  We can only make assumptions.
The only way that this property can be built to this density is with your approval, and ignoring the comprehensive land use plan.
Isn’t it time we put the current residents of Johns Creek ahead of those residents who may not even live here in Johns Creek and might become tenants of this development?
I’ll be frank.  Living in the Medlock Bridge neighborhood, I will not even consider traveling north on 141 between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., unless I am headed to City Hall. It’s not worth the hassle.
Please make the right choice and reject this high density rezoning case.
I also encourage you to ask just how many additional units are permitted by giving the zoning variances versus what the property currently allows.  The height variance, for instance, allows for how many more units? What is the difference to what our zoning would allow as it stands today, and what they are seeking?
Does this equal 10, 20, or even 50% more units?
If the CLUP needs to be changed, then we as a community should change it first.  We should not continue to “variance” ourselves to an ever higher density in Johns Creek on a case by case basis.
Respectfully,
Ernest Moosa

Brace Yourself For the Slowing Georgia Economy

images_man_braking_car“Individual income tax collections for the month increased by 11.5 percent, while gross sales tax collections deposited during November rose a minuscule 0.2 percent. Net sales tax revenue fell by 1.3 percent.

Corporate tax revenues in November increased by $5.1 million.”

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/capitol_vision/2015/12/georgia-tax-receipts-up-7-5-percent.html

There’s what you need to know in a nutshell.

Gross sales tax collections rose only 0.2% in November.  Net Sales Tax Revenue fell by 1.3%.  That says recession.

In an economy that is based on consumption, consumption must outgrow everything else.

The individual tax collections will soon follow suit as well as corporate tax revenues.

If people are not spending more money, companies do not make as much profit.  Companies that do not make as much profit do not need as many employees.  Fewer employees means lower income tax collections.

The state of Georgia did pass a Billion dollar transportation tax earlier this year.  We have begun to see that impact.  Taking a billion dollars out of gross receipts and sending it to the state, rather than to the bottom line of companies and into your banking accounts as savings has a cost.

We will see that cost in full glory shortly.  The tax, however, will not be reversed.

What we will see is everything else blamed, from warm weather to cold weather, to the strong dollar to …..

The truth, however, is much simpler.  Governments that tax too much destroy their own economic engines.

 

Johns Creek and MARTA: The REAL Reason it is NOT the Right Answer

Recently, the City of Johns Creek passed a resolution effectively saying they would not support an increase in the MARTA sales tax, which is and has been collected in Johns Creek since MARTA was formed.

That decision has led to the usual bellowing of racism.  Racism is on the path to becoming the argument of first resort when people, generally on the left, do not get their way.  It used to be the argument of last resort, but why wait?

I am sure that there will be people that claim that my views are biased as well.  They would be wrong.  I graduated from Georgia State University, and I took the train from Hightower to Georgia State daily.  Even then, it took longer by train than by car.  Which is generally true for a lot of MARTA versus car travel cases.

For example, Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to the Atlanta Airport would take 42 minutes at 1:33 p.m. on 11/23/2015.  By bus/rail? One hour and 27 minutes(if you get there as soon as the bus arrives).  Click on the link below, and it will show you current travel times by both modes.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Windward+Pkwy,+Alpharetta,+GA/Hartsfield-Jackson+Atlanta+International+Airport,+6000+North+Terminal+Parkway,+Atlanta,+GA+30320/@33.8724997,-84.6242664,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f59e6c38cf93d3:0x8fcf80e0cde8a243!2m2!1d-84.2459577!2d34.091148!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f4fd2fe1035901:0x4117a3ef1892b048!2m2!1d-84.4277001!2d33.6407282!3e3

We are often told “Look at how successful the METRO is in Washington, D.C.”.  Of course that system is successful.  It was designed and built the proper way a transportation system should be built.  MARTA took a different path.  Well they basically took two paths: North-South and East-West.  That’s their failure.  That they have continued to this day without modifying that plan is why MARTA is not and cannot be the answer.

Have a look at the two systems.  Here are the maps for each:

Washington METRO Map

Washington METRO Map

Washington’s METRO has multiple 8 spokes to their transportation system.  Those 8 spokes three separate transportation circular routes that allow passengers to get to where they are going without the need for everyone to transfer at one primary station if they need to change directions while traveling.

This system is a functional system, and provides for additional expansion because they can connect any two outer spokes, creating another circular path, when the demand is there.

The Washington Metro was started in 1976.  It has:

  • Six Lines
  • 91 Stations
  • 117 miles of track
  • 712,843 passengers per day
marta-map

MARTA Metro Atlanta Rail Map

Atlanta’s MARTA system is shown here:

MARTA was started in 1971:

  • Two Main Lines
  • 38 Stations
  • 48 miles of track
  • 438,900 passengers per day
  • No new stations since 2000

 

As you can see, there is no connectivity between the two main spokes, except at Five Points.  There are no circular paths for patrons to take to get to their destination.

This also creates another major problem.  If MARTA has a failure between Lindbergh and the Airport, or between Holmes and Indian Creek, it disrupts all traffic and buses muse be used.  The Washington METRO allows riders to pick another route if one of the stations happens to be on one of their circular sections of track. Continue reading

We Said This Day Would Come

Recently, I was at a restaurant and ordered a salad.  Being Gluten-free, my options are generally limited.  $10 for a salad I could make at home for $3 was ok.  After all I was at the beach.

I asked to have some chicken added.  Informed they cannot do chicken, but they could do shrimp.shrimp

“How many would you like?”, Alex asked.

I could smell the ocean from where I sat. “Six is good”, I replied.

A few minutes later, Alex came back to the table, and said “Just wanted to give you the heads up that the shrimp are $3.50…..each”.

How does one keep a straight face with that sort of news?  Better yet, how does one not laugh hysterically?

How do I keep a straight face as my friends watch what I might say.

That’s the way I felt when I got home and opened my Blue Cross rate letter for 2016. They are careful not to place you current premium anywhere for the sake of comparison.hair_0

For the record, I have not made any progress towards my $5500 deductible for the current plan year-I have not been to the Doctor for any reasons.

That’s what makes it even more shocking.  My premium has gone from $273.31 to $497.01.

Yes, you read that correctly.

81.84%blue-growth-chart

Here’s a calculator you can use as well.  Depressing, isn’t it?

http://www.marshu.com/articles/calculate-percentage-increase-decrease-percent-calculator.php

Obamacare:  The Gift that keeps on taking.

We said this day would come.  We said rates would rise sharply. No one believed us.

And now here we are.

If you want to know what is killing this economy, look no further.

Blue Cross wants to collect nearly $2,111 from me for doing…..absolutely nothing.

Had Blue Cross been actually concerned about my health, they would have told me to sit down before opening that letter.

And if I were smart?

I’d still be at the beach. But I would get my own shrimp.

I am also changing to a Medical Cost Savings plan.

My monthly contributions will be LESS than the increase that BCBS is asking from me in 2016.

To be a bit more precise, it will be 40% less than what BCBS wants from me.

And my new deductible? $500.

With that kind of savings, I will be able to head to the beach sooner rather than later.

You should explore those sort of options as well.

After all, it is YOUR money.

 

 

 

How The Federal Reserve’s Rate Policies Are Out Of Sync With Our Economic Reality

The Federal Reserve is the weakest of the links in the US economy.  Their timing is poor. They operate under two mandates and one works in direct opposition of the other.

Maintaining a stable money supply is one objective.  Full employment is another.  However, the Fed has a goal of 2% inflation and not 0% inflation, which is not stable, but inflationary.  Additionally the Fed includes data in calculations that are not inflation based on monetary policy, but rising and falling prices due to greater or lesser demand.

That leads us to their second objective: full employment.  When we get towards full employment, wages should rise and businesses compete for labor.  But as soon as this were to happen, the Fed will stomp on the brakes. Continue reading

Introducing the Fulton County Residential Authority( Or Why We Should Not have the Fulton County Development Authority)

I’d like to propose (for illustration only) a new agency for Fulton County.  We will call it the Fulton County Residential Authority(FCRA).  This authority will do for residents what the Fulton County Development Authority(FCDA) does for businesses.

Fulton County needs to attract some of the best and brightest residents out there who are looking for new homes.  There are many attractive locations, and it would be in Fulton County’s own best interest to attract them here.

We can attract them by helping them get the financing they need for their homes.  We will help them to float bonds for their residences, and offer tax incentives for those that are willing to purchase those bonds.

thankyouCurrent residents that are already in their homes?

We will offer you a hearty thank you. Thank you for not questioning our actions.Read more

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