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Upcoming Route 33 construction project to last 3 years

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Aug 19 2013 10:52:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 20 2013 08:01:51 AM CDT
BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

The Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners heard an overview of the upcoming massive roadway construction project involving Freemansburg Avenue and Route 33 interchange during Monday night's meeting.

Freemansburg Avenue, a main roadway in the township, is scheduled to be under construction near Route 33 for the next three years, with St. Luke's University Health Network already undertaking preliminary work widening Freemansburg in the front of its facility, while plans are well underway for bridge and ramp expansion off Route 33.

In addition, the hospital is working with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials to expand Freemansburg Avenue over the Route 33 bridge, which was the basis of a 10-minute presentation Monday night by engineer Michael Johnston. 

Johnston made it clear during his dissertation that scope of the project is indeed, encompassing. The thrust of the project, of course, is a widening of the Freemansburg Avenue bridge over Route 33 as well as improvements to the on-ramps, and the widening of Route 33 itself.

The widening will accomplish two-through lanes across the bridge in the westbound direction, as well as two left-turn lanes to proceed southbound on Route 33. In the westbound direction there will be three through lanes and one right-turn lane, which is dedicated turn lane to access the northbound on-ramp of Route 33.

How is this all going to get constructed? Johnston noted it will be accomplished in three major phases of production. At no time during construction will the lanes be reduced to less than what they are today, with the exception of Freemansburg Avenue, where their will be short-term lane reductions during off-peak periods.

The first-stage is the widening of the median and the northbound lane of Route 33, along with the on-ramps. The second phase is the actual widening of Freemansburg Avenue to the north. The last phase involves median work light reconstrucion work.

Preliminary engineering is already complete, according to Johnston Monday night. The project isnow moving into final design, which should be wrapped up by the spring of 2014, with constructing commencing in the summer of 2014. It is a two-year construction schedule, he said.

In other business, the board also discussed the onoging renovation project of the Housenick Mansion, as part of the Housenick's Memorial Park. On Monday night Commissioner Michael Hudak who said he had carefully studied a report on the proposed roof work "seems to be pretty much in order," he said. The roughly $250,000 price tag was far from "being in order" in his mind.

"That money we simply do not have," he noted, adding that he was "all ears" for solutions from the Friends of the Johnston group.

"I look to them for answers," he said at one point.

President Paul Weiss noted that he would reach out to contacts in the group to ascertain their ideas to acquire the cash to advance the restoration project.