Limits In The Pursuit of Safety

What Seems To Be The Issue?

At the most recent City Council Meeting, Mayor Bodker and a majority of the Council were ready to pursue reducing the lane widths on 141 as a the stated primary purpose of achieving a safer 141. The logic behind this move was clearly not thought out and was not in the best interest of the majority of residents.

Several Council Members professed a desire to lower the speed limit to 45 from 55 MPH. Why? Some residents have complained over the years of speeding along 141.

How Bad Is the Problem?

No one has defined the number of speeders or the speed at which is triggering the complaint. So Council Members seem to be deciding to take a course of action based on emotions (We gotta do something!) rather than factual data.

Should the Majority of Drivers Be Penalized for the Ultra-Minority?

That’s the question these Council Members need to ask. Assume for a minute that there are 500 drivers exceeding 65 MPH daily along 141 That sounds terrible doesn’t it?

Not really. That is approximately 1% of the average number of vehicles on 141.

Should 99% of the drivers lose the opportunity to travel safely on 141 at 55 MPH because of the 1% who do not?

Think about other aspects of you life where there are those that follow the law and those that do not. Is the 1% threshold the level at which you are willing to lose your rights to do something? Hopefully the answer is no.

What Can Be Done?

Police Chief Densmore stated that officers could not issue citations unless a vehicle was traveling faster than 65 MPH. Council Members nodded their heads as this confirmed to them this was way too fast for a highway traveling through a residential community.

While Johns Creek has always been a residential community and has always had this parameter on 141, I found that argument to be weak at best.

Today, Johns Creek has more than 80 police officers, up sharply from 5 years ago.

Yet five years ago, we would see police officers along the 141 corridor parked on the sides of the road. With more officers today, we see less police vehicles, which is likely at the root of this problem.

Police presence alters driver behavior We all know that. Drivers see a police vehicle and they instantly check their speed. It’s the nature of most drivers.

Officers do not have to be present all the time. Drivers remember where they have seen officers in the past. Who does not slow down on State Bridge Road where they have seen officers numerous times in the past?

Police presence works.

Fairer, Easier Solution

This is the fairest and easiest solution. Were the speed limits lowered to 45 mph, we’d still have to have officers out there present to enforce the speed limits. If we did not, they we’d have the same situation we have today.

The choice is clear. We can legislate and penalize the majority for the 1%, or we can encourage a greater presence of police vehicles, which will accomplish the desired affect of drivers driving more safely along 141.

In Pursuit of Safety, Are There Any Limits In Johns Creek?

Safety Used To Justify Solutions

Johns Creek has used the “safety” for the pursuit of many solutions in Johns Creek in search of justifications. But should there be a litmus test when using these claims as justification in the implementation of policy changes, decisions and home inspections.

Residents have seen expensive traffic circles implemented at intersections that have functioned for decades as two or four way stops. The reason cited? Safety.

Residents replacing a hot water heater in their homes now need an inspection. Safety again.

The fourth fire station was justified as a safety issue, despite questions and observations that a Fast Response Unit might actually provide better outcomes for residents of Johns Creek.

Traffic intersections where you used to be able to turn left when there was a safe opportunity to do so now prohibit you from making a left turn unless you have a flashing yellow or green arrow. The reason cited? Safety.

Green Dot: U-Turns Allowed Red Dot: No U-Turn

We have U-Turns being eliminated at 141 and State Bridge southbound citing safety, while the other three legs of the intersection all still allow U-Turns. And a crossover just north of that intersection? U-Turns are allowed and despite the safety issue, will continue to be allowed for the benefit of the businesses.

The U-Turn crossover as you head south on 141 to make the U-Turn to head north is clearly more dangerous for drivers, especially young drivers as they leave the school in the afternoons. However, for the benefit of the businesses this is apparently a risk we can tolerate.

Somehow, at 141 and State Bridge, with a traffic light giving the drivers the right of way, the failure to yield the right of way by State Bridge Westbound drivers taking a right, is enough to get that U-Turn eliminated. Does that make sense?

I Can’t Drive 55

Now we have the lanes on 141 being narrowed from 12 feet to 11 feet AND the speed limit being lowered from 55 to 45 all in the name of safety.

This leads me to the following question:

What Can’t The City Of Johns Creek Do For Safety?

That’s not really the question to be honest. We would ask that if our duly elected officials were action the ones with oversight in making these decisions. But they are not. So here is the question we need to ask:

Are There Limits to What A Staff Member Can Do Using Safety As A Justification?

What’s process anyway? The residents here have elected a City Council to represent them. Can the City Council change this decision? If so how?

For starters, I’d demand actual data on 141 with traffic accidents to determine if we are actually implementing a solution solving a problem.

  1. How many rear end collisions on 141 were reported for the last 36 months?
  2. How many annual miles were driven on 141 for the last 36 months?
  3. What is the ratio of rear end collisions to miles driven?
  4. Is this higher or lower than the national average?
  5. Is this higher or lower than the average for surrounding areas?
  6. How many of the rear end collisions on 141 were in areas where the posted speed limit was 55 and how many were in areas where the posted speed limit was 45?
  7. How many additional minutes of travel will be added daily to commuters traveling the 141 corridor in Johns Creek by lowering the speed limit? (if just 4 miles of 55 MPH road is reduced to 45 MPH, each vehicle will have one extra minute of travel or 24% longer)

During non-rush hours, adding 1 minute of travel to 15,000 vehicles daily equals 15,000 minutes of time. That is 250 hours per day lost. That is 1250 hours per week lost. Or 65,000 hours per year.

You can read about the high cost of traffic here: https://ejmoosa.com/the-high-cost-of-traffic-dollar-and-sense/

This decision could cost more than $650,000 per year of lost time for drivers in Johns Creek if your time is worth $10 per hour. I bet your time is worth more.

If this is a $650,000 per year decision, don’t you think your City Council should have had the opportunity to weigh in knowing the actual facts and costs of the decision?

I certainly do.

While Driving in Johns Creek, Do You Stop More Than You Go?

 

Watch The Video Above.  Here’s my data so far.  I will continue to track it.  Based on the numbers as of 10/19/2017, I am due for at least 80 green lights in a row soon.  I am certainly looking forward to that.

Overall 50.00% 50.00%
Green Red
5 8 38.46%
6 4 60.00%
2 3 40.00%
2 3 40.00%
5 6 45.45%
0 1 0.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
2 3 40.00%
Total 40 40
Udell suggests it Should Be: 62 18

(Redlights should make up only 22% of my Johns Creek Driving experience)

This Is Why We Have Trust Issues With Government

Do you happen to remember the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009?

A large portion of the funds allocated for this act were to go to infrastructure needs such as highways.  States were not supposed to cut their own budgets and use these funds in their place.

Yet somehow, we never saw those massive investments pay off in Georgia did we?  The St Louis Fed has now given us the reason why.

Why the 2009 Recovery Act Didn’t Improve the Nation’s Highways

Click on the link above to read the short but informative analysis on what happened.

Here is a summary in my own terms:

What happened was that Federal Funds replaced(or crowded out) state funds for the transportation projects.  A major condition of receiving these funds was that states, such as Georgia, would continue to spend what they were planning to spend on highway construction and the new Federal Funds would boost that spending. Continue reading

Proof of Concept: Three Lanes Through

Definition – What does Proof of Concept (POC) mean?

A proof of concept (POC) is a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential for real-world application. POC is therefore a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but does not represent deliverables.

Proof of concept is also known as proof of principle.

https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4066/proof-of-concept-poc

Residents of Johns Creek have been told that to cure their traffic ailments, that they must widen State Route 141 to three lanes in each direction.

Others, such as my neighbors and myself, have challenged that this is the only cure for the traffic we have.

We are more than frustrated with our traffic.  We have been for years and years. We are told that we want to simply do nothing.  That is another myth by City Officials.  We want to do something.  We want the right solution, and not just any solution.

Putting the mettle to the test, we have asked to slow down the laying of asphalt and let us see what we can do to improve the bottlenecks we have in Johns Creek.  If traffic can get through the bottleneck, we feel there is adequate asphalt to handle the volume of vehicles until that traffic reaches the next bottleneck(which we can also address).

We are led to believe that just improving the intersections cannot address our issues.   If what we have proposed for the intersections does not work, then neither will their solution of paving three lanes in each direction.  The crucial component is that we get the intersections to function more efficiently.  The roadway between the intersections  when an intersection does not function properly is just space to queue vehicles.

And then we will be right back where we started, with six lanes instead of four.

I encourage our residents, therefore to ask the City Council to show us the Proof of Concept.  Give us the three lanes southbound at 141 and State Bridge Road through the intersection only.  Also, at the same time give us the three lanes westbound on State Bridge Road and have it terminate at the main entrance to Johns Creek High School.

My belief is that will show that three lanes through at the intersections will give us a major improvement in traffic movement, and at the same time demonstrate that we do not need to pave the entire corridor in both directions with three lanes. Our backups will be much shorter in both distance and duration.

And we haven’t even gotten started on the actual functions of the traffic lights themselves.

Imagine that.

I can.

 

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Ten Pounds of Sugar In A Five Pound Bag

“You can’t squeeze ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag”

Residents of Johns Creek have heard this quote on more than one occasion when it comes to issues relating to traffic.  This quote, unfortunately, suggest that we have twice the volume of traffic at our intersections than we can handle.

But, what if the volume at our intersections was not twice as much as they can currently handle?  What if they were only 9-13%% over the capacity today?  Could we make some minor changes that would yield major improvements? Continue reading

A GDOT Traffic Tutorial

You’ve heard lots of information on traffic in Johns Creek.  Many of the conclusions I feel are based on erroneous assumptions and intuitions. The GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) surveys data at locations throughout our state and you have access to that data for yourself to confirm or deny your very own assumptions about the traffic you personally experience. Continue reading

Minor Improvements Can Yield Major Benefits

A truck with a high load underestimated the height of his load by 2 inches and found himself wedged into the entrance of a tunnel.  Unable to back out, experts were called to come and see what could be done to get the truck removed.

All of the engineers crowded around scratching their heads and making drastic suggestions.

Finally a little boy walked up, looked at the engineers and suggested “Why don’t you just let the air out of the tires. Continue reading

Getting 141 Moving: Another Intersection That Needs To Be FATTER

Where is one of the biggest opportunities to get traffic on 141 moving in the morning?  Anyone that drives south out of Johns Creek would agree that it is East Jones Bridge and 141.  Below is a depiction of the standard backup I have seen between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 am.

The orange represents the backup southbound.  The red on the east and western sides of the intersection represents the vehicles on those sides you see when you finally get to pass through the intersection.  So what is wrong with that picture?

It’s important to note that nearly every vehicle east and west bound makes it through the light with just one cycle of the lights at the intersection.

Here is an aerial view of the intersection:

 

As you can see, only one lane in each direction east and west travel straight.  With no additional asphalt the east bound side could be configured to carry two lanes straight through the intersection.  But they need to add an additional through lane westbound.

(What is a FATTER Intersection? http://1c4.f98.myftpupload.com/2017/02/15/what-should-we-do-to-improve-johns-creek-traffic-flow-on-141/)

Doing this would make this intersection MUCH more efficient at a minimal cost. That would have the ability to keep this light green longer and move this traffic through the corridor.

Just two lights down at 141 and Peachtree Corners Circle, the light is green for 4 minutes.  There is no backup heading south at this light whatsoever.

Also, with such short queues on the east and west bound sides of the intersection should indicate that they could keep the light green longer anyway.  They have, for some reason, chosen not to.

Finally, they could do what we have done in other areas such as the stretch between Old Alabama and State Bridge on 141 and make the area three lanes through all the way to Spalding Drive, and this would require no additional asphalt.

Summary:

  1. Fatter intersection east and west bound reduces red light time on 141
  2. Three lanes southbound using existing asphalt increases southbound capacity up to 50%.
  3.  Longer green light times than 141 south currently has increases the volume of vehicles per light cycle.

We could get this traffic moving drastically without destroying the entire corridor and at a minimal cost.

Unfortunately, we wait while the City of Johns Creek works to convince everyone the only solution is three lanes in all directions.

Click here to see more issues and suggestions on traffic:  www.ejmoosa.com

 

What Should We Do To Improve Johns Creek Traffic Flow on 141?

Residents of Johns Creek who travel the 141 corridor have understood just how slow that ride can be.  Some people, who have read what I have written on the cost of traffic delays have asked me what can be done, other than widening 141 to six lanes?

I have, on those occasions, suggested that it’s the side roads along the 141 corridor that need a bit of widening at the interchange  rather than our entire corridor.

Here’s why:

Let’s take the intersection at the corner of Parson’s Road and 141 as our example. As configured today,  has the typical one left turn lane, one right turn lane and one through lane as many of the intersections along the corridor have.

 

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