Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker vetoed a TSPLOST project that could have converted Jones Bridge Road to three lanes, saying it could violate city law.
The city council attempted to overturn the veto Monday night but were unsuccessful, with a vote of 4-3. Five votes are needed to overturn a mayor’s veto in Johns Creek.
Now, councilmembers must work to find another solution to the often-congested stretch of road that sees regular rear-end collisions, Councilman Chris Coughlin said.
This is only the second time Bodker has used his veto power in 12 years as mayor.
The plan, approved by Johns Creek City Council on Nov. 26, was a plan to study options to expand Jones Bridge Road between Waters and State Bridge roads. That plan included a study of a three-lane option for Jones Bridge Road, according to a press release from the city. The plan also included an option for an expansion to four lanes, according to a letter Bodker addressed to city residents.
Bodker vetoed the plan Dec. 7 because he believes it will not sufficiently relieve congestion on the road. Johns Creek’s 2016 TSPLOST (transportation special purpose local option sales tax) referendum specifically called for funds to be dedicated to transportation improvement and congestion relief.
Before the city voted to approve a TSPLOST, the city said publicly that Jones Bridge Road would be widened to four lanes, not three as proposed in the vetoed plan, Bodker said in the letter. The three-lane study would cost more than $100,000, and city staff had previously told the council that “anything short of four lanes will not resolve the road’s worsening over-capacity,” Bodker said in the letter.
Coughlin was one of the members who attempted to override the veto. Coughlin believes that more options aside from the four-lane expansion should be considered, he said in a statement. Expanding the street to four lanes would only be a “temporary respite” and increased traffic flow would again cause congestion in the future, Coughlin argued.
“Widening this road is like loosening your belt to lose weight,” Coughlin said in the statement.
Bodker also believed the three-lane plan would present a legal issue. Because of the way the city’s TSPLOST ordinance is written, it may have required the three-lane plan to be implemented. Because the three-lane plan would not have sufficiently relieved congestion, that would go against the legal purpose of using TSPLOST funds, Bodker said in the letter.
Coughlin rebutted that argument, saying a city attorney had told council it was “acceptable to look at all options” at a Nov. 5 work session.
Because the veto was not overridden, the city council will have to develop a new plan to alleviate traffic congestion on the two-mile stretch of road.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.