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Lehigh Valley Planners approve transportation program listing the next four years of projects

Traffic in Lehigh Valley
Donna S. Fisher for LehighValleyNews.com
Donna Fisher Photography, LLC
Traffic at right moves north on Route 378 over the Hill to Hill Bridge, in Bethlehem, Pa. on February 9, 2023.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study voted Thursday to pass an update to the Transportation Improvement Program, marking down nearly $633 million in funded projects until 2028.

All but one member of the Joint Technical and Coordinating Committee of the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study voted to approve the program, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Managing Editor Matt Assad said.

Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, who has spoken out in the past about greater allocations making their way to Lehigh County than Northampton County, voted against the plan.

The updated plans include public comments made during the development process of the program.

Many included the desire for pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between neighborhoods and amenities and greater public transit expansion, but LVPC noted in its response that funding in the TIP for the projects is limited.

Instead, it encourages municipal and community partners to pursue additional funding to implement them.

Other comments cited specific areas of traffic difficulty and questions for the group about the process.

Tangible projects list

One proposed amendment to the TIP was passed. It increased the amount allocated to the Route 309 Center Valley Interchange project's preliminary engineering budget by $2,625,000.

That followed a request by the state Transportation Department because of the presence of a local historic district and 100-year floodplain.

The amendment reallocated line items related to air quality and congestion mitigation and other design funds for the project.

Eighty percent of funding for the TIP comes from the U.S. Transportation Department, with the rest comes from PennDOT and local sources.
Lehigh Valley Transportation Study

It also reallocated some funds for signal improvements and reserves.

The TIP is the more tangible list of projects following the FutureLV regional transportation plan, which was updated last year and outlined $4.9 billion of expected funds for transportation projects over the next 25 years.

According to the document, 80% of funding for the TIP comes from the U.S. Transportation Department, with the rest comes from PennDOT and local sources.

The full draft plan can be viewed on the LVPC website, along with an interactive map of the locations where projects are planned.

Next steps for the program are for it to be submitted to PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration for anticipated approvals before going into effect Oct. 1.

Projects throughout the region

Among projects listed, three "mega projects" for which work costing over $50 million will occur during that time were given special highlight.

They include:

  • Route 378 Hill to Hill Bridge rehabilitation over the Lehigh River, railways and city streets in Bethlehem ($56 million)
  • Route 309 and Center Valley Parkway Interchange conversion to an interchange with a bridge crossing. A southbound onramp from the Center Valley Parkway to Route 309 will be added ($57 million)
  • Route 309 and Tilghman Street interchange reconstruction and upgrade, including drainage improvements and traffic light installation at ramps ($54 million)

Of the $632,872,313 investment allocated throughout Lehigh and Northampton counties, approximate allocations are:

  • $145 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation
  • $188 million for LANTA transit
  • $133 million for roadway expansion
  • $80.5 million for multimodal transportation projects, including Lehigh Valley International Airport logistics and cargo complex at the $75 million
  • $45 million for roadway reconstruction and modernization
  • $16 million for planning and research
  • $23.5 million for other road costs
  • $2 million for railroad crossing updates

Other projects

Resurfacing projects are listed for State Route 33, Lehigh Street in Emmaus and the City of Allentown, State Route 309, Main Street in Northampton from 21st Street to Cherryville Road and Linden Street in Bethlehem from Elizabeth Avenue to Washington Avenue.

Other projects listed include left-turn lanes to be added at the Route 100 and Route 29 intersection in Upper Milford Township and the Fourth Street and Susquehanna Street in Allentown.

Transportation Improvement Program 2025-2028
Public Document
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission
A map of various projects displayed within the TIP draft document

Also, the replacement of the Fifth Street Bridge over Route 22 in Whitehall Township in 2027-28 for $7 million and the rehabilitation/replacement of the Farmersville Road Bridge over Route 22 in Bethlehem Township.

In Bethlehem, lighting of Route 378 from the Hill to Hill bridge to Route 22 is scheduled for 2026-28 at $2 million.

The drafts note that it doesn't include projects on the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority and interstate TIPs.

It also states that the actual total costs for the projects could be larger because they might take longer than the four-year TIP period.