Long-range transportation plan for Lehigh Valley gets scrutiny
- The Lehigh Valley's Long-Range Transportation Plan will cost more than $5 billion through 2050
- The investment will address more than 500 projects such as fixing roadways and bridges
- Details of the project were disclosed at a Lehigh Valley Transportation Study meeting on Monday
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A blueprint of Lehigh Valley’s 25-year plan to improve local and state roads, bridges and other aspects of the region’s transportation system got its first scrutiny Monday.
The Long-Range Transportation Plan, or LRTP, released Sept. 7, was presented during a 90-minute meeting at the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
The meeting consisted of review and feedback on the updated FutureLV’s LRTP, which calls for a $5.36 billion investment in more than 500 road, bridge, trail and transit projects throughout the Lehigh Valley over the next 25 years.
“We had to design a transportation plan that’s welcoming to everyone.”Becky A. Bradley, Lehigh Valley Transportation Study secretary
The plan’s initial cost of $4.38 billion was increased to its current amount through additional state and federal funding to upgrade the local interstate roadway system.
Among the planned improvements are repaving of all types of roads, improved drainage, developing smart streets that use adaptive transportation technologies and construction of jughandle ramps.
A public meeting for the LRTP will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Northampton County Community College Fowler Family SouthSide Center.
The transportation plan then will go before the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study on Oct. 18 before advancing for review by the Federal Highway Administration.
'Welcoming to everyone'
The upgrades have been subdivided into short-, mid- and long-range plans through 2050. The short-range cost is $633.5 million starting in October 2024, mid-range cost is $1.09 billion starting in 2028, and long-range cost is $2.66 billion starting in 2037.
“We had to design a transportation plan that’s welcoming to everyone,” said Becky A. Bradley, Lehigh Valley Transportation Study secretary.
Other projects proposed by Lehigh Valley communities at a cost of $2.276 billion will be considered whenever additional funding becomes available, Bradley said.
“If requirements are met, and if new funding becomes available or if we can apply for grants, and if the need is there, we need to get the money to fix these issues."Becky Bradley, Lehigh Valley Transportation Study secretary
“If requirements are met, and if new funding becomes available or if we can apply for grants, and if the need is there, we need to get the money to fix these issues,” she said.
Some of the projects and their projected costs:
- Hill-to-Hill Bridge rehabilitation in Bethlehem ($69.8 million)
- Improvements to Route 22 and Route 191 interchange in Bethlehem Township ($38.7 million)
- Reconfiguring and reconstructing the Route 33 and I-78 interchange in Lower Saucon Township ($45 million)
- Interchange reconstruction at Route 309 and Tilghman Street in South Whitehall Township ($73.3 million)
- Construction of a roundabout at Hamilton Boulevard and Lower Macungie Road in Upper Macungie Township ($204.6 million)
- Improvements to LANTA’s bus rapid transit system routes, including crosswalks, ride amenities and traffic signalization. ($38 million in short-, mid- and long-range funding).
For a complete list of the projects, click here.
Upgrades needed to meet growth
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission in 2019 released FutureLV: The Regional Plan, which covers both Lehigh and Northampton counties. The plan is the region’s fifth comprehensive plan.
This year, the LRTP part of FutureLV is being updated after an additional public engagement campaign that included a second region-wide survey, and meetings with all 62 Lehigh Valley municipalities, community organizations, government agencies and residents.
A transportation needs assessment study in 2018 was followed by a transportation-focused survey in the spring of 2023.
Through 24 TNA meetings, various external events, countless emails and social media posts and a survey taken by more than 1,000 people, feedback was collected from Lehigh Valley residents on their transportation priorities for the region.Lehigh Valley Transportation Study
Through 24 TNA meetings, various external events, countless emails and social media posts and a survey taken by more than 1,000 people, feedback was collected from Lehigh Valley residents on their transportation priorities for the region.
At Monday’s meeting, Bradley noted a major reason for the need for transportation upgrades is the estimated population growth of 99,000, or 14%, in the Lehigh Valley by 2050.
Using a slide presentation, Bradley underscored the need for upgraded transportation infrastructure. The data showed the Lehigh Valley will experience 19% job growth by 2025, with 74,000 next jobs expected to be added.
The policy guidelines include:
- Developing a mixed transportation network to support a more compact development pattern, optimize roadway capacity and encourage alternative travel options
- Provide a safe, well-maintained transportation network to move people and goods efficiently while capitalizing on existing infrastructure
- Encourage enhanced transit connections to improve mobility and job access
- Strengthen freight mobility to minimize quality of life impacts on residents
- Support the expansion of technology, communication and utilities to reduce travel demands, optimize traffic flow and prepare for the next generation of jobs
- Ensure the highest and best use of transportation funds to maximize available financial resources.