Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley Planning Commission holds gala, awards ceremony

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Community achievements in planning and development were honored and forecasts for future Valley growth featured at the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s 4th annual Gala at DeSales University.

LVPC Executive Director Becky Bradley outlined the current jobs situation and population trends in the valley, as well as projections for future growth.

LVPC projects that the population of Lehigh and Northampton counties will exceed 690,000 by 2020 and total more than 813,000 by 2040, Bradley said.

Bradley said that employment numbers have had roughly 0.8 percent to 1 percent growth each year.

The total number of jobs in the Lehigh Valley has also been rising steadily, Bradley said. By 2040, more than 455,000 jobs will be available, according to LVPC projections.

Rental markets in the valley have been “fairly strong” due to the current socio-economic conditions of the country, especially for millennials and post-millennials, Bradley said.

Most non-residential floor area growth in the valley in recent years has been industrial-related, Bradley said, with 9 million square-feet of space dedicated to industrial logistics created last year. 

Bradley said that the LVPC plans to invest $458,328,221 from 2017-2020 on infrastructure projects, including the repairing of some valley bridges, which are having trouble accommodating a heavy volume of traffic.

Bradley encouraged valley municipal governments to join the Hazard Mitigation Plan currently being updated by LVPC, and which will be ready to be implemented by October 2018.

Several valley cities, townships and boroughs earned awards throughout the night in several categories ranging from the best revitalization project to the best outdoor recreation project. 

Catasauqua Borough won the award for overall community distinction for its ongoing waterfront development project, including its creation of a waterfront zoning district in 2016, as well as the construction of the $10 million Ironworks municipal building, which was completed in August.

The winner in the transportation planning category was the Public-Private Bridge Partnership in which Northampton County teamed up with Kriger Construction to repair or replace 33 of the county’s bridges over four years. Bradley said that if this project continues to be successful, other areas in the nation may copy Northampton’s public-private blueprint.

Allentown’s Stevens Park Master Plan won the prize in the category for best outdoor recreational project. The rebuilt park, located at 6th and Tilghman streets, features a tot-lot, performance stage and basketball court.

The transportation infrastructure category winner was Allentown’s rehabilitation of the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge, more commonly known as the 8th Street Bridge. The bridge’s roadway was widened by two feet to better accommodate the 17,000 vehicles which cross it every day.

A Shared Road Maintenance Intermunicipal Agreement between Plainfield Township, Wind Gap Borough and the PA Department of Community and Economic development won the award for best multi-municipal project. 

Other winners of the night included: Bethlehem’s Hayes Street Corridor improvements for best revitalization project; the Upper Milford Township Open Space Initiative for best open space project; the new Williams Art Campus at Lafayette College for best land development; and Easton’s Comprehensive Plan 2035 for the excellence in planning award. 

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