JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The lifeblood of any great city is its ability to keep the traffic moving, and Johns Creek has met that challenge with its unique Transportation Response Vehicle (TRV) assisting motorists in need.
Since August 2011, during the busiest rush hours in the morning and afternoon, the TRV helps speed motorists on their way and provide assistance to stranded vehicles. Thus, relief is provided to those in need while reducing the inconvenience to the rest of the motorists who simply want to go about their business.
This service, similar to the HERO vehicles, the Highway Emergency Response Operators program operated by the Georgia Department of Transportation on metro Atlanta’s interstate system, keeps cars and trucks moving through the city.
“It’s the only municipal service in the state,” said Scott Cleveland, a JC traffic technician. “But other cities are watching what we’re doing.”
The Transportation Response Vehicle is manned by one of two multi-skilled city technicians working separate shifts from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. During non-rush hours, TRV techs perform other duties such as repair and maintenance on municipal facilities, including minor adjustments to traffic signals.
Since its inception, the innovation of the TRV has provided assistance to some 800 stranded vehicles.
When the TRV pulls up to provide gas or a battery jump for a stalled vehicle, its quick action quickly gets traffic moving again. The TRV tech may have to help change a tire once the vehicle is moved to the side of the road.
More than 100 hours of lost time have been restored to thousands of motorists who otherwise might have been delayed. And the assistance provided to the stalled motorists is always appreciated.
“We have a lot of traffic moving through Johns Creek, some of it local and much from outside the city,” said City Manager John Kachmar. “Many of our roads are near or at capacity, so it is vital that we keep all lanes open as much as possible. With the TRV, we can help get stranded cars moving or at least get them off the road, which is good for safety reasons and it eases congestion.”
Most calls came from Medlock Bridge Road (Ga. 141) followed by State Bridge Road and Old Alabama Road. Wednesday afternoon rush hours are the busiest times for TRV techs.
The TRV team is not a mobile vehicle-repair service, but it can help with basic fixes, such as adding coolant, changing flats and re-charging batteries. If required, the truck can push a stalled vehicle off the road or pull a car to safety.
The vehicle is equipped with fire extinguishers, flares, five gallons of gasoline, an AED and traffic control devices, such as cones, chains and a bucket of sand to help move stuck cars. The TRV team also carries “Oil-Dri” to soak up spilled fuel or coolant on the roadway.
Two busy state highways converge in Johns Creek: state routes 141 and 120.
The TRV is often sent to accident scenes to help move vehicles if required and to help clean up debris. The truck is equipped with a large directional light board mounted on top of the cab so oncoming motorists can see that they need to change lanes.
John Hillyer, the other TRV technician, says people are universally happy to see him or his colleague Cleveland when they arrive.
“We’ve had people try to give us money, which we can’t accept, of course,” Hillyer said. “We are satisfied with just helping people who are in trouble.”
As long as the vehicle can roll freely, the TRV can get it to the side of the road to receive attention, allowing traffic to move freely again.
“We patrol the entire city,” said Cleveland. “There is a tremendous volume of traffic downtown.”
The techs arrive at the scene of the distress call and go into action. Keeping traffic open and maintaining safety are their main jobs on the TRV shift.
“Sometimes I wonder what they were attempting to do given the speed limit and the position of their vehicles,” Cleveland said.
But the TRV tech’s job is simply to get the vehicle out of traffic and the rest of the cars moving again.
“There are few alternate routes, and those are few and are smaller and less efficient,” he said.
One good thing about the job, is people are always glad to see him roll up, Cleveland said.
“It’s not unusual to get a hug,” he said. “That’s very gratifying.”