My Follow-Up to Tom Black on Traffic in Johns Creek

Below is the follow-up letter to Tom Black on the traffic situation here in Johns Creek.  Asking specific questions about the assumptions I have heard at City Council Meetings and other events, I wanted facts explained and less anecdotal observations such as traffic must be heavier from Forsyth County, as they have more new homes.   None of my questions were answered.

 

Here was the brief reply I received:

“Mr. Moosa many of your conclusions do not agree with the information we have provided you. Plus you are taking issue with common and accepted planning estimates. We will review your attachment to review our conclusions. Thanks Again for your interest in the City of Johns Creek.”

 

 

Response to Traffic Letter From the City of Johns Creek

Below is the response I received from the City of Johns Creek regarding what I feel are misconceptions about our traffic problems.  Were my questions answered or dismissed?

Below is my response to what I received.  That was summarily dismissed.

I will let you draw your own conclusions.  If you actually drive our roads, I think you know the answers.

Traffic and Misconceptions in Johns Creek

Below is a letter I sent to the City Council of Johns Creek in September of 2015.  I will also post the City’s response and my follow-up in additional posts.
Johns Creek City Council,
I watched the work session and heard the discussions once again on traffic on 9/9/2015.  I hear repeatedly the increase we have had in traffic is from outside our city and that is the primary reason for our congestion.  I have heard it stated much of this traffic is coming from Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties.
Frankly, that is an easy answer for most people to hear and believe to be true. It’s been repeated enough that people believe it to be true without question.  Is it true, however?  What if it is entirely wrong?
I do not think we are being purposely misled on traffic.  Instead, we are choosing the standard answers that we have heard in years past over and over that made sense.  But that does not mean that they are the correct answers.
I have shared this information with two of our council members in the past.  Unfortunately, I did not receive any feedback, and based on comments stated at the meetings I have observed, it has either been overlooked or dismissed entirely.   Yet we are making multi-million dollar decisions on roads and the future shape of travel in Johns Creek.
Here’s what we do know: 1) Our population has increased sharply since 2000.  2) Traffic volumes have not.
If the GDOT data is correct, then we would have to have a shift away from “through traffic” and if our population has increased, then more of our trips would be originating here in Johns Creek, for us to have relatively stable and flat traffic volumes.
Below are the Georgia DOT traffic counts over the last twenty plus years at the sites where the DOT takes annual measurements.  Please take a look at this data, and if you have better data, it should be shared.
The five links below represent the annual traffic surveys by the Georgia DOT on 141 just south of the river through Johns Creek, and ending in Forsyth County.  I invite you to look at each station.  Where are these increases that have lead to our severe congestion during rush hours?
None of these traffic monitoring stations confirm what is being said as to why traffic is worse in Johns Creek.  I have looked at traffic from the Georgia DOT along State Bridge Road, 120, and other major roads in Johns Creek.  I know and understand what GDOT says are the trends on these roads.  I have also looked at surrounding communities, such as Peachtree Industrial Blvd and Pleasant Hill Road, to see what is happening outside of our cities. All of these data points paint a very different picture about traffic.
Is the Georgia DOT wrong?  Do we just dismiss this data because it does not fit with our beliefs?  Should we let traffic myths drive our decisions?
Or do we have another reason for why traffic is so tied up here?   Are you willing to objectively look at it before we spend millions upon millions of dollars on solutions?
More than a fast solution, we need the right solution.  And if we spend millions attempting to resolve the wrong problem, what will that solve?
If we do not have good data, we will not have good decisions being made.  What data is being used to support the idea that our problems are coming from through traffic?
Better results demand better analysis.  I suggest that means giving us a clear picture of where we were, where we are, and where we are headed when it comes to proposed solutions.  And I just do not see that when it comes to traffic.
The Georgia DOT gives us a pretty good view of where we were, and where we are.  From there we can make educated guesses as to where we are headed.  This data from the GDOT is available to anyone that wants to look at it, see what it says, and even question it.  One data point you can dismiss.  But how can you dismiss them all?
I have looked at this data.
Will you?
I look forward to a reply.
Respectfully,
Ernest Moosa
Once you click on the link, you will then need to click on Annual Statistics.  The data is presented both numerically and graphically.

We’ve Pulled As Much Future Demand Forward as We Could

Perhaps more than anyone else, we’ve been keen on documenting the rise of subprime auto loans.

Over the course of the last 12 months, data from Experian clearly shows that underwriting standards are falling in the industry as competition for a shrinking pool of eligible borrowers heats up.

  • Average loan term for new cars is now 67 months — a record.
  • Average loan term for used cars is now 62 months — a record.
  • Loans with terms from 74 to 84 months made up 30%  of all new vehicle financing — a record.
  • Loans with terms from 74 to 84 months made up 16% of all used vehicle financing — a record.
  • The average amount financed for a new vehicle was $28,711 — a record.
  • The average payment for new vehicles was $488 — a record.
  • The percentage of all new vehicles financed accounted for by leases was 31.46% — a record.”

Source:http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-14/subprime-auto-canary-deutsche-bank-probes-employees-exaggerating-abs-demand

As you read through the data above, it becomes obvious that something has gone seriously wrong in our economy.  To finance a vehicle for 84 months-7 years to you and I, is phenomenal.  The rate of depreciation on the vehicle nearly guarantees that the owner will be underwater for nearly the entire length of the loan. Continue reading

Rally Behind Trump and Destroy the Government Party

One after another, the politicians I think I could respect eventually show me their true colors and that they WILL CONFORM to to the hidden leadership of the Government Party (Democrats and Republicans working together behind closed doors) that none of us elect.

How does the Government Party maintain this control over the elected politicians?  The formula seems to be rather simple.

  1. As soon as a new person is elected, get them to toe the line or they will be given lousy assignments, their legislation(no matter how appropriate) will never see the light of day and your district or state will suffer the consequences of base closings and less federal dollars returning home.  Essentially “We will make you appear ineffective”.
  2. The sub parties of the Government Party(Democrats and Republican to you and I) will pressure the big contributors to cut you off and fund challengers if you are not a team player.
  3. Bully, threaten and coerce you to conform behind closed doors, and if that doesn’t work, they will do so in public.

Only a true outsider has a chance to stop that, and only from the White House. Why?  Those that are elected officials have already joined the Government Party.  Those that do not will take a verbal assault from everyone on both wings of the Government Party.

Think Sarah Palin.  Think about the assaults she still gets today from both sides?  Why?  She threatened everything because she did not win her State’s to[ job by playing their game, and if elected, that would have weakened the Government Party going forward.  Everyone in the Government Party knew it.

Who’s Afraid of Sarah Palin (And Why)

The frequent and persistent use of the Veto by the next President of the United States(POTUS) will be the ONLY thing that is effective.   It has to be used not with reckless abandon, but with clear determination to reform and reshape what the Government Party produces.

Will the Government Party work for months to get something passed that is clearly wrong for America(They do this all the time btw), and have it vetoed, only to have to work another month to override the veto?  They might do this once, twice or more.  But they will soon figure out that this game is changed.  The electorate (you and I) will know who is clearly going against the Constitution and the will of the people.  We will then have the clear reasons to send them packing.

There are only two ways to break the Government Party and its iron-fist of a hold on the throats of the American taxpayers and citizens: Top-down and bottom up.  Here’s the best chance we have had to change it from the top-down.   Bottom up will take decades.

Of the three outsiders Carson, Fiorina, and Trump, , which one do you think has the courage to say F you to that hidden leadership and their public faces? Because F you is what the American people are trying to say and they refuse to listen.

I think the answer becomes clearer by the day.  The one that they are all focused on daily.  The one they are trying to destroy.  The one that they tried to back into a corner if the Republican wing of the Government Party so he would not run as an Independent.

Yes, the one they are all trying to eliminate from the race despite the fact he is leading in their polls with a strength that they cannot replicate with other candidates.

Interestingly enough, they are also attacking the “insider” Cruz who just might be the strongest contender that is willing to defend the Constitution of the United States as it is meant to be defended.

I feel for the first time that there is a strong chance I will vote for Trump instead of the Libertarian candidate for POTUS, because he IS an outsider, and he will not play the rigged game.

Trump could indeed let us down.  After all, every insider that has made it to the White House has done just that.  One hundred per cent of the time.

If he does, we can quit fooling ourselves that this country belongs to us and acknowledge without fail that it belongs to the Government Party.

Stand your ground, America. We have had enough.

This will be our last chance to save the Republic.

Destroying the Government Party will give Libertarians the opportunity to be heard.

Destroying the Government Party will all our government to be returned to We, the People.

Destroying the Government Party will give us the chance to return to a real Constitutional Government with real checks and balances.

Leave the Government Party in place, and your children will never even understand what the freedoms we have already lost feel like.

It’s your choice.

Are you willing to wait for an insider of the Government Party to rise to the Top and make changes?  That will never happen.

Or are you willing to sound a clear and decisive shot at the Government Party that will break it into pieces?

If so, you know where your support needs to be.

Do it.

Seniority Rules (And Why Our System of Government Falters

In the halls of the Senate and Congress all elected individuals are not treated equally. Somehow this basic tenet of our nation’s existance does not apply to the elected leadership of this nation.

In fact, the system is so weighted that the two candidates that were vying for the Democratic nomination for President would not have been qualified to lead the Senate based upon these rules. I will also promise you that not one first term congressmen will have a shot at being Speaker of the House despite the dismal performance of the current Speaker. The most highly qualified individual will simply not get the job. And so, our nation falters. Continue reading

MARTA: It’s Not About Racism-It’s About the Math

MARTA_trainSince the beginning of the Mass Transit era in the Atlanta metropolitan area, I’ve constantly heard the arguments that the reason people were against the transit system was racism.

This is usually the moment that the local politician or commentator makes the statement about how people feared that their homes would be broken into and their tv set stolen and taken away on a bus or train. It’s a tired example, and an inaccurate example. Continue reading

My Letter to the Johns Creek City Council on the Bell Road Rezoning Case for High Density Apartments

Council Members:
I am asking you to vote against the rezoning of the properties located at Bell Road and 141, which is on tonight’s agenda.
This location has become another Ground Zero for gridlock in Johns Creek.  We now have four traffic lights over .7 miles, from Skyway Drive north to Johns Creek Parkway.  During morning and evening rush hours, I have used Google maps to track the commute times through this area and the average time to travel this very short distance averages 8-9 minutes, and I have seen it as high as 11 minutes to get through the four lights.  That is less than 10 miles per hour through this area.  Normal travel should be three minutes, according to Google.  As the City also uses Waze(a Google product), I hope that you accept that data as accurate.
The much higher density that the rezoning will allow will only make this issue worse.  Anecdotal suggestions that this development will not make things worse are not fact based.  We do not know exactly what or how the tenants that choose to live there will act on a day to day basis.  We can only make assumptions.
The only way that this property can be built to this density is with your approval, and ignoring the comprehensive land use plan.
Isn’t it time we put the current residents of Johns Creek ahead of those residents who may not even live here in Johns Creek and might become tenants of this development?
I’ll be frank.  Living in the Medlock Bridge neighborhood, I will not even consider traveling north on 141 between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., unless I am headed to City Hall. It’s not worth the hassle.
Please make the right choice and reject this high density rezoning case.
I also encourage you to ask just how many additional units are permitted by giving the zoning variances versus what the property currently allows.  The height variance, for instance, allows for how many more units? What is the difference to what our zoning would allow as it stands today, and what they are seeking?
Does this equal 10, 20, or even 50% more units?
If the CLUP needs to be changed, then we as a community should change it first.  We should not continue to “variance” ourselves to an ever higher density in Johns Creek on a case by case basis.
Respectfully,
Ernest Moosa

Brace Yourself For the Slowing Georgia Economy

images_man_braking_car“Individual income tax collections for the month increased by 11.5 percent, while gross sales tax collections deposited during November rose a minuscule 0.2 percent. Net sales tax revenue fell by 1.3 percent.

Corporate tax revenues in November increased by $5.1 million.”

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/capitol_vision/2015/12/georgia-tax-receipts-up-7-5-percent.html

There’s what you need to know in a nutshell.

Gross sales tax collections rose only 0.2% in November.  Net Sales Tax Revenue fell by 1.3%.  That says recession.

In an economy that is based on consumption, consumption must outgrow everything else.

The individual tax collections will soon follow suit as well as corporate tax revenues.

If people are not spending more money, companies do not make as much profit.  Companies that do not make as much profit do not need as many employees.  Fewer employees means lower income tax collections.

The state of Georgia did pass a Billion dollar transportation tax earlier this year.  We have begun to see that impact.  Taking a billion dollars out of gross receipts and sending it to the state, rather than to the bottom line of companies and into your banking accounts as savings has a cost.

We will see that cost in full glory shortly.  The tax, however, will not be reversed.

What we will see is everything else blamed, from warm weather to cold weather, to the strong dollar to …..

The truth, however, is much simpler.  Governments that tax too much destroy their own economic engines.

 

Johns Creek and MARTA: The REAL Reason it is NOT the Right Answer

Recently, the City of Johns Creek passed a resolution effectively saying they would not support an increase in the MARTA sales tax, which is and has been collected in Johns Creek since MARTA was formed.

That decision has led to the usual bellowing of racism.  Racism is on the path to becoming the argument of first resort when people, generally on the left, do not get their way.  It used to be the argument of last resort, but why wait?

I am sure that there will be people that claim that my views are biased as well.  They would be wrong.  I graduated from Georgia State University, and I took the train from Hightower to Georgia State daily.  Even then, it took longer by train than by car.  Which is generally true for a lot of MARTA versus car travel cases.

For example, Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to the Atlanta Airport would take 42 minutes at 1:33 p.m. on 11/23/2015.  By bus/rail? One hour and 27 minutes(if you get there as soon as the bus arrives).  Click on the link below, and it will show you current travel times by both modes.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Windward+Pkwy,+Alpharetta,+GA/Hartsfield-Jackson+Atlanta+International+Airport,+6000+North+Terminal+Parkway,+Atlanta,+GA+30320/@33.8724997,-84.6242664,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f59e6c38cf93d3:0x8fcf80e0cde8a243!2m2!1d-84.2459577!2d34.091148!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f4fd2fe1035901:0x4117a3ef1892b048!2m2!1d-84.4277001!2d33.6407282!3e3

We are often told “Look at how successful the METRO is in Washington, D.C.”.  Of course that system is successful.  It was designed and built the proper way a transportation system should be built.  MARTA took a different path.  Well they basically took two paths: North-South and East-West.  That’s their failure.  That they have continued to this day without modifying that plan is why MARTA is not and cannot be the answer.

Have a look at the two systems.  Here are the maps for each:

Washington METRO Map

Washington METRO Map

Washington’s METRO has multiple 8 spokes to their transportation system.  Those 8 spokes three separate transportation circular routes that allow passengers to get to where they are going without the need for everyone to transfer at one primary station if they need to change directions while traveling.

This system is a functional system, and provides for additional expansion because they can connect any two outer spokes, creating another circular path, when the demand is there.

The Washington Metro was started in 1976.  It has:

  • Six Lines
  • 91 Stations
  • 117 miles of track
  • 712,843 passengers per day
marta-map

MARTA Metro Atlanta Rail Map

Atlanta’s MARTA system is shown here:

MARTA was started in 1971:

  • Two Main Lines
  • 38 Stations
  • 48 miles of track
  • 438,900 passengers per day
  • No new stations since 2000

 

As you can see, there is no connectivity between the two main spokes, except at Five Points.  There are no circular paths for patrons to take to get to their destination.

This also creates another major problem.  If MARTA has a failure between Lindbergh and the Airport, or between Holmes and Indian Creek, it disrupts all traffic and buses muse be used.  The Washington METRO allows riders to pick another route if one of the stations happens to be on one of their circular sections of track. Continue reading