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Officials: No changes warranted at Suwanee intersection

Staff Photo: Keith Farner After concerns voiced by a citizen at a City Council meeting earlier this year, city and county officials examined the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and McGinnis Ferry Road. The officials decided a reconstruction of the intersection would be beyond the scope to be constructed and funded as an in-house project in the near future.

Staff Photo: Keith Farner After concerns voiced by a citizen at a City Council meeting earlier this year, city and county officials examined the intersection of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and McGinnis Ferry Road. The officials decided a reconstruction of the intersection would be beyond the scope to be constructed and funded as an in-house project in the near future.

SUWANEE -- Concerns from a resident about a busy intersection in Suwanee caused city and Gwinnett County officials this summer to study potential alterations. What they've found is the cost-benefit analysis and safety precautions don't warrant a change to existing plans.

Suwanee resident Marjorie Cook in February and last month during the audience participation portion of city council meetings voiced concerns and displeasure at the speed at which officials have reacted to her requests.

In February, Cook said she and her husband witnessed a young mother and child attempting to cross the intersection at Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and McGinnis Ferry Road in what was a potentially tragic situation.

In response to Cook's comments at the February council meeting, Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette wrote a letter on March 2 to Gwinnett County Director of Transportation Kim Conroy. Burnette wrote that the intersection is well-utilized by pedestrians and bicyclists, but "unfortunately, vehicle speeds and volume on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard make this area especially challenging to cross."

Burnette also referenced this project as part of the city's existing Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. It's listed at No. 47 on the list of 50 projects in part because it's near a Gwinnett County-controlled intersection and the list was prioritized by a cost-benefit analysis, city manager Marty Allen said.

The existing Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan suggested pedestrian signal phases, street lighting, accented crosswalks and raised islands, Burnette wrote in the letter to Conroy.

So Burnette suggested Gwinnett County examine the situation, and wrote that Suwanee would partner, include contributing funds, with the county.

But after a meeting between Conroy, Allen and several staff members, Conroy said a reconstruction of the intersection would be beyond the scope to be constructed and funded as an in-house project in the near future.

Conroy said in a letter to the Cooks in June that the city and county hired a consultant engineer to develop a concept design of the intersection, and offer any recommendations. Conroy also noted that the intersection and pedestrian crosswalk met standards when it was built.

"We really didn't think it was a good candidate for something we could quickly do," Conroy said in an interview this week. "To try to do anything as an improvement for pedestrians would take almost a rebuild of the intersection."

Cook said that the intersection needs to be fixed before there is a tragic accident or death.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out," she said. "High volume traffic, near accident, somebody's going to get killed. We have money, the study's been done, I don't see what the problem is."

Cook said she was told by Chuck Bailey, the Gwinnett County Division Director for Traffic Engineering and Planning, that the cost for raised islands at the intersection would be $125,000, and an overlay, which would move the intersection back, would cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

Allen and Conroy both said they hadn't previously received complaints about the intersection. Conroy said there are other similar intersections throughout the county, including the intersection of Rogers Bridge Road and PIB in Duluth.

Cook said she estimated that it's the busiest intersection in Suwanee, and while it may not be a top priority on the county list, the city needs to act.

"They know it's a problem," Cook said. "They just won't fix it."