L. MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. – Apartments and a hotel would add traffic to a hazardous intersection in Lower Macungie Township, according to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
The LVPC reviewed a plan for 318 housing units, an 88,000-square-foot hotel and 19,800 square feet of retail space at 617 N. Krocks Road, at the intersection of Krocks Road and Route 222.
“This is one of the highest-crash locations in the Lehigh Valley,” LVPC Executive Director Becky Bradley said at Thursday’s commission meeting.
Regional Planner Joseph Dotta presented grim traffic statistics: 122 accidents within 100 feet of the intersection in the six years from 2017 through 2022.
Busy intersections are not uncommon in the Lehigh Valley, but this crossing of Route 222 has a twist: The development would share an entrance with Resurrection Cemetery, owned by the Diocese of Allentown. That creates the potential for conflict as lines of cars of mourners show up at a funeral.
The LVPC recommends coordination with local authorities to avoid the road being blocked during funeral processions.
Another hazard would be constant: Pedestrians would have to cross seven lanes of traffic at the intersection. The LVPC’s draft review recommends solutions that include a “pedestrian island,” but the best option might be having faster traffic on Route 222 cross above Krocks Road.
That configuration, similar to how Route 22 passes over Route 512 in Hanover Township (Northampton County), resembles a short bridge but is known in the planning world as a “grade-separated interchange.”
The idea of a pedestrian bridge over Route 222 has been raised by a couple of the appointed LVPC commissioners, but it is not a recommendation of the professional staff.
The appointed commissioners approved the staff recommendations for the Krocks Road development. Those points will be passed on to the developer, Lower Macungie and other nearby municipalities for consideration.
Bethlehem’s Walnut Street Garage
The commission also reviewed new zoning for the site of the Walnut Street Garage in Bethlehem. The Bethlehem Parking Authority seeks to change the zoning for the entire tract of land to Central Business, or CB, to accommodate a new garage, retail space and potential residential use.
Chairman Chris Amato was presiding over his first meeting as leader, and he wrapped it up in 89 minutes.
Amato welcomed four new commissioners: Diane Kelly, president of the board of commissioners of South Whitehall Township; Sunny Ghai of the Upper Macungie Township Board of Supervisors; Lehigh County Commissioner Ron Beitler; and John Inglis, chairman of the Upper Saucon Township Board of Supervisors.
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has a professional staff that reviews big projects proposed for Lehigh and Northampton counties. Staff recommendations are then reviewed and sometimes altered by appointed commissioners from both counties, and then sent to developers and affected municipalities.
In most cases, municipalities make final land-use decisions.
The next meeting of the full commission will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22. The agenda and a link to the virtual meeting will be posted on the LVPC website before the meeting.