Actions Of Mayor Trohanis On Traffic Study Called Into Question - And Response (2)

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Walden Town Board meeting on Oct. 13 raised troubling questions about Mayor Bill Trohanis. The questions arise out of the mayor’s handling of the traffic impact study relating to the proposed Food City development. Here’s what happened.

For the past 18 months, Walden residents have expressed serious concerns over the traffic consequences of the Food City development. The proposed development would be at the intersection of Timesville Road and Taft Highway, and that intersection is not far from the intersection of Anderson Pike (top of the W Road) and Taft. These two intersections already present traffic issues. 

The developer, John Anderson, has dismissed concerns about the anticipated increase in traffic problems. He refers to his traffic study and claims that there will be no decrease in the level of service and no significant delays. Importantly, Anderson’s study looked only at the Timesville/Taft intersection (and the two entrances for the proposed development) and did not consider the Anderson Pike/Taft intersection. Also, that study did not consider the effects of any development projects outside the Timesville/Taft intersection area (such as new homes and planned construction north of the intersection).

The Town Board considered the traffic matter at the Feb. 11, 2020, Board meeting and selected an engineering firm to perform an independent study for the town. The terms for the independent study were put into an agreement between the town and the firm. A key element of the town’s traffic study was to be the traffic counts. The agreement provided that the engineering firm would do traffic counts at three intersections: Timesville Road and Taft; Anderson Pike (top of the W Road) and Taft; and James Boulevard (Bell Avenue) and Taft. The engineering firm recommended that the counts be performed when school was in session and after the state COVID quarantine had ended. 

In July, without consulting with the Board, Mayor Trohanis directed the engineering firm to proceed immediately with the traffic count. At the Oct. 13  Town Board meeting, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the mayor acknowledged: “I said, ‘Let’s get this done,’ and they did it.” 

The engineering firm complied with the mayor’s demand. As a result, the firm wound up using the April 2019 traffic count from Anderson’s study, adopted the methodology of the Anderson study, and did a traffic count only for the Timesville Road and Taft intersection area. This changed approach by the firm was contrary to the town’s agreement with the firm. Additionally, the firm also adopted the Anderson study approach of not considering the effects of any development projects outside the Timesville/Taft intersection area (such as new homes and planned construction north of the intersection).

The engineering firm prepared its traffic impact study and sent it to the mayor. The mayor had the study sent to Anderson but did not send the study to the other two Board members. On Aug. 23, Anderson sent Mayor Trohanis a response to the town’s traffic impact study. The mayor did not send the response to the other two Board members.

On Sept. 8, the Town Board held its regular monthly meeting, but the mayor said nothing about the town’s traffic impact study or the response. 

On Sept. 10, Alderwoman McKenzie inquired about the status of the study, and the mayor then sent the study to her and to Vice Mayor Davis. So, when Mayor Trohanis received the town’s study, he sent it immediately to Anderson but held the study for at least 21 days before sending it to the other Board members – and then only after the inquiry.

The appearance of all this is not good for the mayor. The mayor went behind the backs of the other two Board members, unilaterally changed the rules on timing of the traffic count, and caused the engineering firm to adopt the methodology of the Anderson study.

By these actions, the mayor caused the engineering firm to abandon the agreement with the town and adopt Anderson’s methodology. The mayor completely undermined the “independent” traffic impact study that the Town Board had ordered. 

The actions of Mayor Trohanis raise all sorts of questions. The mayor is supposed to be looking after the interests of the town. Shouldn’t he be working more closely with the Board members than with Mr. Anderson? 

At the Oct. 13 Town Board meeting, the mayor’s actions were brought to light. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the mayor said: “If I made a mistake, I apologize.” 

Although the mayor is not sure if he made a mistake, the facts are more than clear.

Does the mayor have any understanding at all about what he did? Or, was he in such a rush to accommodate Mr. Anderson’s timetable that the mayor just didn’t think about what he was doing? The mayor has shown extraordinarily bad judgment.

Walden now faces decisions that will determine the town’s character forever. That’s why I support Vice Mayor Lee Davis for mayor and Lizzy Schmidt for alderwoman.

Lee has shown during his service on the Town Board that he is thoughtful and collaborative in his decision making. He takes the time to understand the issues. He makes good judgments.

John D. Barry 
Walden Resident for 37 years 

* * *

Mr. Barry:

The voters deserve to know the truth, versus this manufactured attempt to question my integrity and undermine the authority of the leadership and administration of the Town.

First and foremost, it needs to be mentioned that Vice Mayor Davis instructed the engineering firm to delay the study without any discussion with myself, (The Mayor who signed the contract ), the Alderwoman, the town attorney or the town manager. This was inappropriate.

The contractual terms for the new study were put into an agreement between the town and the firm with LOP LLC responsible for the $14,000 payment. It was signed March 5 with completion required by Sept. 5.
 
The contract states:
“If delay or suspension extends more than six months Barge’s compensation shall be equitably adjusted.”

Upon realization the study had not been completed, I contacted the firm. It was then, I was informed that Vice Mayor Davis had instructed them to delay the traffic study until fall when school started. Again, this was done without mentioning or consulting anyone on the board.

When I spoke to Barge, no one knew if school was going to start on Aug. 12 in phase one, two, or three. School resumed in Phase 2 on Aug. 12 at 50 percent attendance levels on any given day. It was not until Aug. 31 that school was open in Phase Three with face to face education for all students.

As Mayor I had every right to instruct the firm to proceed with the study since the start date of school was in question. When I received the study I sent it to the town manager and the town attorney instructing him to forward to Mr. Anderson if appropriate.

Respectfully,
Mayor William Trohanis

* * * 

Mayor Trohanis,

Yesterday you challenged John Barry’s letter to the editor, critical of your actions in sharing information with John Anderson and withholding that information from Walden aldermen. You stated that “the voters deserve to know the truth”, and then you made an unfounded allegation against me. 

As you know, Barge Engineering was asked to perform an independent traffic study of the impact to Walden of the proposed strip-development. I was the point of contact with Barge. Barge called me in June, as we were in the midst of a quarantine, and the schools were closed. Barge advised that for an independent traffic study, the count of traffic should be done after schools reopened in August and hopefully the quarantine would be over. I agreed with this decision. In July you contacted Barge upon your own initiative and told them to begin the traffic study. This resulted in a traffic count that was poor and our data is therefore comprised. The entire purpose of the study was to collect independent and accurate data. Your decision prevented that. 

I have attached the email exchange between us on this issue. These are your words, and they reflect your judgment. To be very clear: these emails reflect you directing our town attorney to send a traffic study ordered by the town to John Anderson. You were the sole recipient of the study, and yet your priority as mayor was to share it with John Anderson, and not with either of the elected aldermen who represent residents of Walden. 

Voters can draw their own conclusions. 

Sincerely, 
Lee Davis

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bill Trohanis <billtrohanis@gmail.com>
Date: September 10, 2020 at 4:04:31 PM EDT
Subject: Re:  Walden TIS

Lee,
I did nothing wrong .
We had not heard anything from the study and it was June. I contacted Barge to get moving on the study as we signed the contract in March I believe. Before the report was even complete, I asked the count question you just asked me.

Barge did their own traffic count and utilized what THEY thought to be the best data. Not me.

Thank you.
Bill

On Sep 10, 2020, at 2:12 PM, Lee Davis <lee.davis@davis-hoss.com> wrote:

Bill,

I understand, Sam sent it to John Anderson after you asked him to, if appropriate, since he is paying for it. The point is you didn’t send it to me or Sarah. 

Also, when we last spoke to Barge they were going to do their own traffic count. That’s the underlying data of the report. That’s the integrity to this report, the data. When I spoke to Barge in June they planned to do that in August after schools reopened. Apparently someone told them to go ahead and do the report without collecting data. That’s not what we agreed to and that’s not an independent traffic study. 

I’ll say no more as I’m sure Sam would prefer that we discuss this at our monthly meeting. This is very disappointing. 

Lee

On Sep 10, 2020, at 11:14 AM, Bill Trohanis <billtrohanis@gmail.com> wrote:

Lee, yes 
Sounds reasonable.

It had the invoice and I asked Sam to send it to John A. I did not send it to John A.
John received it and sent it to Steve Myer who did the original for his comments. John A simply forwarded that response to me which I forwarded to y’all.

I apologize for any confusion.

Kind Regards,
Bill Trohanis

On Sep 10, 2020, at 11:03 AM, Lee Davis <lee.davis@davis-hoss.com> wrote:

Bill,

When I try to access the Walden traffic study link you shared, it requires a login and password when I try to access it. Can you or Fern please send me a copy of the downloaded document Walden traffic study. Or of it too large, can you please send login information so I can access this file. From Sarah’s email earlier today, it appears she has not seen the traffic study either. 

From the email thread you sent a few minutes ago, it looks like you shared the report two weeks ago with John Anderson. 

Given the strife that the LOP, LLC project has generated and the time and expense it has cost the town, it is best if information like this is shared with all of us as you or the town receives it and certainly before you provide it to John Anderson. Otherwise it looks like you and John Anderson have this information and we are left in the dark. That’s a reasonable request, isn’t it? 

Sincerely,

Lee

On Sep 10, 2020, at 10:41 AM, Bill Trohanis <billtrohanis@gmail.com> wrote:

Yes sir
Previous email with the TIS Acronym

Kind Regards,
Bill Trohanis


On Sep 10, 2020, at 10:32 AM, Lee Davis <lee.davis@davis-hoss.com> wrote:

Has the traffic study been completed?

Lee

On Sep 10, 2020, at 9:40 AM, Bill Trohanis <billtrohanis@gmail.com> wrote:

I received this response back after Sam sent It  to John A.

Kind Regards,
Bill Trohanis

Begin forwarded message:

From: John Anderson <janderson@gkhpc.com>
Date: August 23, 2020 at 7:34:35 PM EDT
To: "billtrohanis@gmail.com" <billtrohanis@gmail.com>
Subject: Fwd:  Walden TIS



John R. Anderson
Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, PC


Begin forwarded message:

From: "steve@meyertrans.com" <steve@meyertrans.com>
Date: August 21, 2020 at 5:53:36 PM EDT
To: John Anderson <janderson@gkhpc.com>
Cc: "{F92}.GKHPC@gkhpc.imanage.work" <{F92}.GKHPC@gkhpc.imanage.work>
Subject: RE:  Walden TIS
Reply-To: <Steve@Meyertrans.com>


John,

 

On page 36,

Bullet 2- The sight distances are fine after any foliage is cleared from the ROW, the sight distance should be OK.
Bullet 3 – Barge assumed a higher percentage of vehicles using the Timesville Road exit and turning east on Timesville Road than I did.  That is why he had a poorer LOS on Timesville Road for left turners going north on Taft Highway.  I had a LOS of C and he had a LOS of E.  The installation of the left turn lane is always a good idea to reduce delay for people on Timesville Road.  We could say we disagree, but overall operation of the intersection would be better if you add the left turn lane.  Your call.
Bullet 4 – you have over 100 feet storage for Site Access 1
Bullet 5- You have longer than 50 feet recommended for the southbound and northbound  turn bays according to the drawing sent to TDOT.
 

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Steve

 

Stephen E. Meyer, MSc, P.E., FASCE
Meyer Transportation Consultants, Inc.

From: John Anderson <janderson@gkhpc.com>
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2020 4:10 PM
To: Steve Meyer (Steve@MeyerTrans.com) <Steve@MeyerTrans.com>
Cc: '{F92}.GKHPC@gkhpc.imanage.work' <{F92}.GKHPC@gkhpc.imanage.work>
Subject: FW: Walden TIS

Steve,

Please review and advise your thoughts

 

 

John R. Anderson

Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, P. C.


From: Sam Elliott <selliott@gearhiserpeters.com>
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2020 4:05 PM
To: John Anderson <janderson@gkhpc.com>
Subject: FW: Walden TIS

 

I don’t see any reason you should not see this.   

 

Sam D. Elliott | Attorney | selliott@gearhiserpeters.com



From: Bill Trohanis
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2020 3:12 PM
To: Sam Elliott <selliott@gearhiserpeters.com>; Walden Town of <waldentownhall@epbfi.com>
Subject: Re: Walden TIS

 

Sam

I did not forward to John A 

If appropriate since he is paying for it 

please do so.TY

Kind Regards,

Bill Trohanis


On Aug 21, 2020, at 1:26 PM, Bill Trohanis <billtrohanis@gmail.com> wrote:


Citrix Attachments

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Walden TIS.pdf

13.8 MB

Download Attachments

jonathan smith uses Citrix Files to share documents securely.

 

Mayor Trohanis,

                Good afternoon.  The above link will allow you to download the traffic study.  It is a larger file (14MB) so if there are any issues with the download please let me know and if you have any questions on the report please do not hesitate to call me.

Thank you for this opportunity.

jonathan

Jonathan W. Smith P.E.

IMSA TS II
TN, KY, AL, OH, GA

 

TRANSPORTATION ENGINEER
TRAFFIC ENGINEERING SERVICES


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