Cities get mixed signals over traffic light

After four years, tens of thousands of dollars and two traffic studies, Johns Creek is seeing red.

City leaders said they’re through dealing with Roswell and attempts to install a signal light at an intersection both cities share. They voted Monday to cut their losses at about $37,000.

The last straw came last month when Roswell canceled a permit that it had earlier issued, ordering a halt to work Johns Creek had already begun in Roswell’s right-of-way at the intersection of Brumbelow and Nesbitt Ferry roads.

“At some point, you stop,” Johns Creek City Council member Karen Richardson said. “Are we going to continue to beg another municipality, ‘Please, oh please, let us spend our money inside your borders?’”

Warrant studies conducted by both cities show the Brumbelow-Nesbitt Ferry intersection has enough traffic — 20,000 vehicles a day — to justify a signal. It ranks 11th in the number of accidents among all municipal intersections in Johns Creek.

Roswell gave its neighbor permission to install the light on Roswell’s right-of-way last July, providing it also made several intersection improvements.

After Roswell refused to commit funds, Johns Creek also agreed to bankroll the whole project at a cost of $180,000. Work began Feb. 6.

But the following day, Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak issued a stop-work order via email saying: “Our mayor has directed that this project come back to the Transportation Committee for review.”

Roswell officials say Johns Creek began work with little notification and made changes to the original plans that deleted a turn lane and placed a signal mast arm foundation in the wrong spot.

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said the city recognizes there is a justification for the signal, but other intersections in Roswell require more immediate attention.

“We approved the plans they submitted and then when they began work, they did not follow the plans they submitted,” Wood said. “Our position is that if you do it right, then we’ll support it. But if you do it on the cheap and don’t do it right, we cannot support [it].”

Johns Creek Public Works Director Tom Black term that charge “bunk.” He said he has written responses from Roswell acknowledging when work was to begin.

“They approved the plans,” he said. “They approved everything we’ve done. Now they’ve asked us to resubmit.”

Black also said there was no attempt to delete a turn lane. Cold, wet weather has stalled that portion of the project, he said.

Johns Creek City Attorney William Riley said Roswell should consider its liability in the issue.

“I think we’re going to find out this was a political situation rather than a public safety situation,” he said. “If something happens to somebody, that would all come to light and they’d have to answer to that in court.”

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker and Councilmember Kelly Stewart voted against ending the effort.

“I just don’t want there to come the day when we wish we’d have tried harder,” Stewart said.