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Lower Mac commissioners approve traffic simulation study

By Lou Gombocz, Jr., WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 22 2014 05:33:28 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 22 2014 05:37:20 AM CDT
Hamilton Blvd/222 Bypass at I-78 in Lower Macungie Twp

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LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

It seems as though traffic tie-ups, bottlenecks, and increased congestion are just about everywhere in the Lehigh Valley, including the Hamilton Boulevard and Route 222 bypass area just south of I-78 in Lower Macungie's east end.

However, the Township's Board of Commissioners is taking action now before the traffic congestion of today becomes an unfixable traffic nightmare of tomorrow.

Thursday evening the board approved appropriating $10,000 for a more detailed traffic simulation study and presentation to be conducted by Keystone Consulting Engineers, the township's longtime contracted engineering firm.

Keystone Civil Engineer Scott Pasterski offered a near 30-minute overhead visual presentation to the commissioners, demonstrating a moving model of traffic counts and flow in what the engineers termed "the eastern end" traffic network of the township.

The presentation was the first of four other traffic networks in the township that need to be examined in more detail.

Pasterski said the traffic volume on Route 222 has doubled in relation to what it was originally designed to accommodate 10 years ago in 2004.

And the traffic volume is expected to grow at an alarmingly faster rate than expected in the future, according to Bill Erdman, Keystone's lead consulting engineer to Lower Macungie.

Additionally, both Erdman and Pasterski said traffic in the "eastern end" will also be affected by three yet to be built developments in the township.

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These sites include the Spring Creek Properties commercial and industrial site, Liberty At Mill Creek industrial, and the Hamilton Crossings retail center which will contribute to significant traffic growth in the area over the next five years.

Erdman said the proposed traffic simulation study would be an asset in identifying and eliminating traffic bottlenecks along Route 222. He also stated, "If we do nothing, nothing will happen," referring to reducing traffic problems or even eliminating some of them.

The commissioners agreed they would like to partner with neighboring Upper Macungie Township to arrive at solutions to traffic problems, in addition to receiving further recommendations from the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

Township resident Mike Seigel also asked the board to consider the increased traffic from the west that will use Route 222 North and Hamilton Boulevard to attend concerts at the new PPL Events Center in downtown Allentown.

Siegel also urged the board to conduct a business usage study of the township's portion of the Route 100 corridor and plan accordingly "before it becomes the birthplace of another MacArthur Road in Whitehall if we don't plan it right."

Commissioner Ron Beitler said regional comprehensive traffic plans are already outdated due to population growth.

He said Lower Macungie's traffic models also need updating.