Route 22 getting up to $1 million in new PennDOT funding for study
- Up to $1 million in PennDOT funds are headed to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for a study of Route 22
- The highway is among the most traveled in the region, hosting nearly 110,000 vehicles a day, according to the LVPC
- A plan published in 2001 called for the widening of Route 22 and improving the safety and congestion of the corridor
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Route 22 is set to get a new examination as leaders continue to confront and improve the heavily traveled Lehigh Valley Thruway's congestion and safety.
Lehigh Valley Planning commission is set to get up to $1 million in state Transportation Department funds for a corridor study of Route 22, state Sen. Nick Miller announced Tuesday.
“State Route 22 has long been a nuisance for community members and travelers. I’ve advocated for more funding to make the route wider to fix the near-constant congestion.”State Sen. Nick Miller
“State Route 22 has long been a nuisance for community members and travelers,” said Miller, who represents Lehigh and Northampton counties.
“I’ve advocated for more funding to make the route wider to fix the near-constant congestion. It’s a route that many, many people utilize and we need to provide those on the road with a safer, better experience.”
Previous widening plans were put on hold in recent years because of budget restrictions, and concerns about safety and congestion on the route are nothing new.
Planned for more than 20 years
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission published its "22 Tomorrow" plan in 2001 highlighting possibilities for widening and meeting the traffic burden.
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and Transportation Study now are seeking public comment for a new transportation plan outlining more than $4.3 billion in projects planned for the region up to the year 2050.
The plan now lists Route 22 widening from Lehigh River to Airport Road to six lanes for $34.2 million.
Tuesday's announcement stated that an estimated six hours of congestion occur daily between State Route 1004 and Route 22.
“The last time Route 22 was studied was 20 years ago and with our growth, more must be done.”Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley
“Route 22 is the Lehigh Valley’s most traveled highway,” Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley said. “It’s our Main Street.
"The last time Route 22 was studied was 20 years ago and with our growth, more must be done. We now will be able to prioritize and invest in improvements making Route 22 better for everyone.”
Busy and getting busier
Route 22 at the Lehigh River Bridge has nearly 110,000 vehicles per day, Bradley said.
“With the predicted growth in freight traffic from the FedEx facility and the Lehigh Valley International Airport on Airport Road, this study is urgent,” Miller said.
“It is anticipated that this will cause even more congestion on State Route 22. The continued growth of warehouses and facilities in our area is bringing jobs and economic development, but residents need to be able to get to their jobs and homes safely, without sitting in traffic day in and day out.
"We want to continue to grow our region, but not at the expense of our local community members. It is critical that we invest in our infrastructure in the Lehigh Valley before it becomes too dire.”State Sen. Nick Miller
"We want to continue to grow our region, but not at the expense of our local community members. It is critical that we invest in our infrastructure in the Lehigh Valley before it becomes too dire.”
In rolling out an ambitious long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities, a U.S. Department of Transportation data visualization project documenting roadway fatalities from 2016 to 2020 released this year showed the number of traffic fatalities in Northampton County was 1.9 times the average county nationwide.
The fatality concentration level in Lehigh County was even higher, at 2.4 times the average county nationwide.