Lehigh Valley

PennDOT: New Rte. 22 bridge completed by August 2019

LVPC board hears Route 22 construction update

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - PennDOT may eventually replace the Fifth Street bridge in Whitehall Township, but that work will depend on timing for Route 22 widening project.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on Thursday offered the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission updates on the $62 million Route 22, Fullerton Avenue and Lehigh River Bridge widening project. PennDOT District Five Executive Mike Rebert briefed commissioners.

PennDOT this summer closed and demolished the Fifth Street bridge to remove its northern abutment. That paves the way for a retaining wall allowing for a third westbound lane and merge on-ramp from Fullerton Avenue to MacArthur Road.

Rebert said the Fifth Street bridge may be replaced in a future Route 22 reconstruction project, but said they state has no plans for an immediate rebuild primarily due to timing limitations involved in the current widening project. 

The large widening platforms adjacent to the Lehigh River Bridge's eastbound lanes are half of the new bridge which will be completed and opened in late October, according to Rebert. He said the concrete has been poured for the bridge and the parapets installed.

Rebert noted the eastbound side of the bridge will serve eastbound and westbound traffic until the old bridge that is in tremendous disrepair is torn down and a new one built to carry westbound traffic. 

He said the bridge's westbound traffic pattern shift will occur at the end of this year, and the new bridge will be completed by August 2019.

Construction crews ran into digging difficulties along the highway's cliffs when they discovered inconsistent bedrock formations, requiring increased time and alternate drilling methods.

Rebert said PennDot's goal is to have Route 22 three lanes wide from Route 378 in Bethlehem to Fifteenth Street in Allentown.

"It's been long talked about, much needed and is in process," he said.

The section of Route 22 at MacArthur Road and Fullerton Avenue carries about 100,000 vehicle per day, according to PennDOT.

Rebert said the next major road project will be a $200 million reconstruction of Interstate 78 from the Berks-Lehigh County line to Lenhartsville.

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