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Red light, green light: Dorney Park intersection gets $555,000 for improvement

South Whitehall Township
The plan for the improvements at the intersection of Lincoln Ave. and Hamilton Blvd.

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — The roads near Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom have had traffic and pedestrian safety concerns raised by South Whitehall Township officials.

Now, the township will take another step to address the issues.

South Whitehall has gotten a grant of about $555,000 from the state Transportation Department to modernize Hamilton Boulevard at Lincoln Avenue, according to a post on the township website.

The changes will include LED pedestrian signals, extended sidewalks and a landing pad for a new bus stop close to the intersection.

The township also will install new traffic control technology to change the traffic signal patterns remotely during certain times, such as peak hours for Dorney Park.

The improvements come as Dorney Park is in the process of building a sidewalk along Hamilton Boulevard from Haines Mill Road westward to the park entrance.

The grant is called the Automated Red Light Enforcement Grant, but it doesn't include installing red light enforcement cameras.

The funding comes from violations caught by red light cameras, which are legal only in Philadelphia.

The improvements are expected to be completed by summer 2025, Township Manager Tom Petrucci said.

Addressing traffic

Traffic delays are common on Hamilton Boulevard near Lincoln Avenue during peak hours for Dorney Park.

The traffic got so bad one weekend in July that South Whitehall Police Department told residents to avoid the area.

Township officials will use the funding from the grant to try to address the problem by integrating the intersection's traffic signal into PennDOT’s Intelight Maxview Advanced Traffic Management System.

The program lets municipalities program certain traffic signal patterns that are timed to accommodate particular circumstances, such as peak hours for Dorney Park.

The new patterns can be triggered remotely.

Dorney Public Relations and Communications Manager Ryan Eldredge said previously that park officials were addressing the problem on their end by working to get people into parking spaces faster.

Pedestrian safety

Another safety concern is pedestrian access to the park.

Two hotels are on the other side of Hamilton Boulevard from the park, so hotel guests sometimes run across the four lanes of 45-mph traffic to avoid its $30 parking fee.

Others take the bus to and from the park, but the closest bus stop to get into Allentown is across Hamilton Boulevard from the park — with no crosswalks leading to it.

The township website post states that the grant will help “address major pedestrian/transit-user safety concerns at this intersection.”

Township officials will use the funding to repaint the crosswalk across Hamilton Boulevard at Lincoln Avenue, make the sidewalk ADA compliant and install LED pedestrian signals at the crosswalks and the median island.

The township also will use the grant money to build “accommodations for new LANTA bus stop landing pads,” the township website post read.

“Hamilton Boulevard is recognized as a regional high-crash corridor, with over 70 collisions having been documented since 2015, while many more are assumed to be unreported."
An information packet for South Whitehall commissioners

The new bus stop would be further from the park entrance than the one that is currently used by Dorney Park visitors and employees.

Asked whether if there are any plans to incentivize use of the new bus stop, Petrucci said PennDOT and LANTA have control over the final configuration of the bus stop and the sidewalk.

South Whitehall Board of Commissioners in October also authorized township staff to apply for a grant through the state Department of Community and Economic Development to fund a road safety audit for Hamilton Boulevard.

“Hamilton Boulevard is recognized as a regional high-crash corridor, with over 70 collisions having been documented since 2015, while many more are assumed to be unreported,” an information packet given to commissioners at the time said.

Road safety audits help to identify specific elements of a roadway that may present a safety concern, and proposes mitigation strategies.

Petrucci said the township’s application for the grant is under review.