Lehigh Valley

New signals on truck traffic issues in U. Macungie

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - Truck traffic issues rumbled through a municipal meeting in Lehigh County this week.

In one instance, the issue was familiar -- Upper Macungie Township residents' concern over increased truck traffic that will be generated once the $110 million Ocean Spray bottling plant project on Boulder Drive is completed.

The other issue, however, involved a matter that won't be ready for full public discussion for another couple of months -- construction of a truck inspection station on the north side of Schantz Road near Route 100.

Construction is already under way for the 225,000-square foot Ocean Spray plant on 44 acres of land along Boulder Drive. Ocean Spray needs the facility because the company is moving its operations to the Lehigh Valley from Bordentown, N.J.

Ocean Spray is preparing a revised traffic study for the project, which is expected to bring 165 jobs into the Lehigh Valley, and several residents are anxiously awaiting it.

Supervisors vice chairman Samir Ashman said township traffic engineer J. Scott Stenroos will soon be meeting with Ocean Spray's traffic engineers, who are compiling the revised study, and that the study will likely be reviewed at the planning commission's Sept. 19 meeting.

If so, the supervisors will discuss the revised plan in October, Ashman said.

Stenroos said he believes Ocean Spray will have its trucks travel along Boulder Drive and on to Route 100 as a way of minimizing the effects of extra truck traffic on township residents.

However, Ashman pointed out to a woman concerned about the traffic, "Until we can understand the new traffic plan ... until our traffic engineer has time to digest it ... until then, it's premature [to discuss it]."

Ashman also said to people unhappy about the increase in truck traffic: "The traffic is going to move regardless. That plant is already being built. We can't change [the extra traffic]. We can just see what we can do to mitigate it."

Another woman was more philosophical about the issue. She said Upper Macungie is known as having a major industrial park and people who move there and live there should have "a certain level of tolerance" for truck traffic. "After all, how many people have jobs because of those companies and their trucks? I'm one of them."

The possibility of building a truck inspection station was raised by Upper Macungie police chief Edgardo Colon, who said the township is currently inspecting commercial trucks "wherever we can [including] the side of the road."

Colon said he will be meeting with Emmaus borough and South Whitehall Township law enforcement officials as well as the state police to get their views on building such a station, and will be investigating what state, federal and private money might be available to build it.

Colon said he would be compiling the information over the next few months and hopefully have a report ready for the township supervisors by the end of the year.

Colon said after the meeting that it's too early to say how much such a station would cost, but he guessed that the price tag would be "at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars."

Colon said the tract of land along Schantz Road that he has in mind for the station allows "convenient roadway access" for truckers after the inspection is completed.

Colon said he has not approached the land owner about selling the property, and pointed out that the views of the township engineer would also be part of any feasibility study.

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