JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek City Council had a hefty discussion regarding road work projects during an April 26 work session.
The council was presented with three projects — bridge replacement on Buice Road, sidewalks along Rivermont Parkway and the widening of Haynes Bridge Road.
Currently, the bridge on Buice Road over Johns Creek does not meet structural standards for the volume of water flowing underneath.
During large storm events, the bridge causes flooding upstream and consistently experiences water levels rise to the top of the roadway, creating the potential for road closure.
Council members are set to approve engineering for the project at their next meeting on May 10.
This project calls for reconstructing the bridge within its existing footprint but at a higher elevation to minimize flooding conditions. The construction would require closing the road to traffic for approximately three months. During that time, Buice Road would be closed between Farmbrook Lane and Twingate Drive, and traffic would be detoured to Spruill Road and Old Alabama Road.
The bridge would also add pedestrian connectivity over Johns Creek and meet current roadway and safety standards.
While council members agreed to advance the bridge replacement, they were more divided over the other two transportation projects.
The council split 3 to 3 on whether to follow staff’s recommendation to enter the engineering phase for sidewalks along Rivermount Parkway from Yukon Drive to Barnwell Road. The road has 18-foot-wide lanes, providing the city options for either traditional or multi-use pedestrian walkways. Standard roadways are 11 to 12 feet wide.
The cost has been estimated at between $350-$400,000.
But residents are divided. Following a public input meeting, the city received 72 written responses. Most, 31 in all, favored the traditional concrete sidewalk option. Twenty opposed the sidewalks altogether, and some of them recommended the city instead turn its attention to sidewalks along Barnwell Road instead — a project estimated at about $5 million.
Council members were split 3-3 on the issue, and most said they would like greater clarification from the half-dozen or so property owners who would be directly affected by the pedestrian strip.
Mayor Mike Bodker said that debate among residents over the project was wasting time. He said he would not cast a tie-breaking vote.
“We have people begging for sidewalks that are higher on the list at this point,” Bodker said. “We have people who are on the list that are fighting about it. I'm tired of wasting the citizen’s time and money with a debate.”
Bodker called for city to reallocate the $500,000 intended for the project and move it to another sidewalk project.
As it stands now, the council will explore funding other high-priority sidewalk projects.
The final project discussed at the work session was the widening of Haynes Bridge Road being advanced in the right-of-way phase after positive community input from the engineering phase.
Haynes Bridge accumulates a large amount of congestion and the project would widen the existing two-lane road to four-lanes and add pedestrian paths on both sides of the roadway. It also includes a combination of center turn lanes, medians and turn lanes into neighborhoods to improve access. As originally scoped, the project limits were from Old Alabama Road in Johns Creek to Mansell Road in Alpharetta.
One complication arose after the City of Alpharetta expressed that they had exhausted all of their TSPLOST funds and were not able to move past the engineering phase on their portion of the project.
The council was torn on whether to begin the project without Alpharetta on board with its share.
“I would like to see the project move forward but only until Alpharetta is committed to doing their part as well,” Councilman John Bradberry said.
Councilwoman Erin Elwood said they should move forward with the Johns Creek portion, regardless of Alpharetta’s commitment to the project.
“We can't predicate work on Alpharetta doing something,” she said. “We have a lot of work we can be doing in that intersection... So we need to take action.”
The council did not make any final decision on the project, but it plans to revisit the item at the meeting on May 10.