LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - A Lehigh County commissioner has raised the possibility that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will thwart traffic improvement plans as inadequate for the Hamilton Crossings shopping center in Lower Macungie Township.
Commissioner Percy Dougherty said the Route 222 bypass was not built to handle the extra traffic that will be generated by the proposed shopping center.
He is doubtful PennDOT will be satisfied with the developers' plans to add an access road along the bypass to serve the shopping center, which will be built on 63 acres between Route 222 and Hamilton Boulevard at Krocks Road.
Dougherty said the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission will review the Hamilton Crossings project and make a recommendation to PennDOT when it meets at 7 p.m. Thursday night.
"From committee and staff comments I have seen already, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is going to go on record against the approval of the traffic plan for this particular site," said Dougherty, who serves on the planning commission board.
He said that position will be based on the fact that the Route 222 bypass, including its intersection with Krocks Road, was not designed to handle the extra traffic.
Dougherty said a full interchange at that location would have been a better choice.
He explained the unfavorable recommendation on Hamilton Crossings is coming from LVPC's comprehensive planning committee, which met Tuesday.
"That will be open for discussion by the full commission," said Dougherty. He noted Lisa Scheller, chairwoman of the commissioners, also serves on the LVPC board. "We're looking forward to that discussion."
He later said PennDOT listens to the LVPC's recommendations "to a great extent."
Dougherty made his comments at Wednesday night's commissioners meeting, which was attended by Hamilton Crossings developers. They did not respond to his news. He suggested the developers, as well as the township, may want to have representatives at Thursday night's LVPC meeting.
During the discussion about Hamilton Crossings at Wednesday's commissioners meeting Dougherty, who lives in Lower Macungie, declared: "PennDOT really screwed us when they put in what people call the bypass. That is no bypass. How can you have a bypass with traffic lights on it and a 45 mph speed limit?
"And it was designed for the traffic that was there at the time. Anybody with any common sense could see the development going on in Lower Macungie Township, the warehouses that were being built and the future impact that was going to go onto that particular highway. PennDOT really shirked its responsibility. It was irresponsible what they did to the township, the county and the valley."
The upscale Hamilton Crossings will have the Lehigh Valley's first and only Costco, a Target, an unidentified "major national high-end food store" and other stores and restaurants. Its more than 590,000 square feet of retail space will be surrounded by parking lots for 2,500 vehicles.
Developers hope construction of Hamilton Crossings will begin by September and be completed by the fall of 2014.
They propose widening Route 222 at the shopping center by adding an eastbound collector/distributor road to handle all the traffic. They also plan to widen Krocks Road and make traffic improvements on Hamilton Boulevard.
Allentown, PA 18102