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September 26, 2012JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – When it began, the Johns Creek City Council just wanted Roswell to contribute to a traffic signal for Brumbelow Road at Nesbit Ferry Road. Now, the city will ask Roswell to cede all of Nesbit Ferry to Johns Creek – after Roswell spends an estimated $500,000 to bring the road up to standards.
Actually, after hearing Johns Creek Public Works Director Tom Black's report at a Sept. 24 council workshop, it may not be such a pie-in-the-sky request.
Roswell has not shown much interest in funding half or even a third of the cost of a traffic signal at Brumbelow, despite the traffic warrants under the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to which all Georgia governments subscribe. Roswell's position is it has many intersections with traffic warrants for a signal, and Brumbelow is a low priority since complaints come from Johns Creek residents, but none from Roswell citizens.
"We have a lot of intersection improvements we would like to make, but there isn't enough money to do them all," said Roswell Mayor Jere Wood earlier. "We have to prioritize based on our needs."
But in preliminary negotiations with Johns Creek on the issue, Wood proposed that Johns Creek agree to adopt half of Nesbit Ferry. That would make both cities responsible for the road's upkeep, and then Roswell would see its way clear to help with the signal.
That is when the Johns Creek Council asked for Black's report and recommendations on the adoption of half of the road.
Black said while the new signal would cost about $200,000, the real elephant in the parlor is the condition of Nesbit Ferry Road. According to Black, the road "is in poor condition." He recommended that Roswell would have to complete the needed asphalt patching and resurfacing before the city would take complete ownership of the road.
Black recommended the city not accept co-ownership of the road with Roswell.
"That is because anything we would want to do on Nesbit Ferry would require our getting the cooperation of Roswell for any significant improvements. That's the boat we're in right now," Black said.
Thus, he recommended that the city take the entire road or none.
So why should Roswell agree to complete the repairs of Nesbit Ferry and share the cost of the light and then turn it over to Johns Creek? Black said there is benefit to Roswell to do so.
• First, the road must be repaired, and Roswell will have to make those repairs soon or face far more serious repairs as the road deteriorates more.
• Roswell could use its state allocation of road and transportation dollars under the Georgia Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) program and thus have no impact on its city budget.
• Roswell would not be responsible for any future capacity improvements or other improvements such as turn lanes, curb and gutter, signal maintenance, utilities, bike paths or sidewalks.
• Black says Roswell is "one bad accident away" at the Brumbelow intersection from incurring a potentially expensive legal battle with "possible tremendous financial liability for refusing to take part in the signalization project."
Charles Ellison, a resident of Mayfair subdivision on Nesbit Ferry, said he would like to see somebody take a leadership role in maintaining the road.
"Obviously, the road itself needs repairs. It's in bad shape," Ellison said. "But beyond that, there are things it needs badly. It is a highly traveled road with semi-tractor trailers and school buses. The school buses park on the side of the road in the morning waiting for the time to begin their routes.
"But there are no shoulders. I could walk to Newtown Park if there were sidewalks, but there are none. And the light at Brumbelow is badly needed," he said.
Johns Creek Council liked the idea of acquiring the road because of its potential to turn Nesbit Ferry at Holcomb Bridge Road into a gateway to the city and the Newtown area.
While the plan would relieve Roswell of future costs and liabilities for the road, it will still be a hard sell to convince the neighboring city to use a year's allocation of state LMIG money to bring the road up to full specifications only to surrender it to Johns Creek.
And Roswell has always rejected the position that there is any legal liability for the intersection simply because of traffic warrants for a signal.
Mayor Mike Bodker and Councilman Ivan Figueroa were authorized to continue the negotiations on the basis of Black's recommendations.
Managing Editor, Appen Newspapers Inc.