Lehigh Valley

Tesla will charge its electric cars at LV Mall

Company plans to build supercharging station at shopping center.

WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - Tesla Motors plans to build a supercharging station to power its electric cars at the Lehigh Valley Mall on MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township, Lehigh County.

Designed only to recharge the batteries of Tesla vehicles, it will be the first Tesla supercharging station in the Lehigh Valley.

"We're very excited that Whitehall Township has been chosen to be the first for a Tesla," said Mayor Edward Hozza, Jr. "And hopefully Whitehall will be considered when Tesla is looking for a location to actually sell the cars."

Township officials briefly discussed plans for the charging station at a short workshop meeting Monday night. They have to take action to approve those plans next week.

Commissioner Philips Armstrong said Tesla officials like the Lehigh Valley Mall location because it will give people something to do while their cards are being charged, "so it should help our economy down there too."

Tesla cars can be recharged in less than an hour, said Commissioner Thomas Slonaker. "It's pretty impressive."

"Yeah, for $100,000," quipped another commissioner. "If you loan me, I'll get one."

The average price for a new Tesla S sedan is $92,220, according to Edmunds.com, a car buying website.

Tesla maintains its model S, which it lists at $63,570, will go 170 miles after being super-charged for as little as 30 minutes.

Tesla plans to install the stations, which it calls Superchargers, at locations along interstates all over the country.

It has 104 such stations now, according to its website. It plans to build more to serve 80 percent of the U.S. population by the end of this year and for 98 percent by the end of next year.

Each station has four to 10 charging stalls where drivers plug in their Teslas to recharge the batteries.

Supercharging is free for the life of a Tesla Model S, "once the Supercharger option is enabled," according to the company.

"The cars will tell you where the next charging station is, so you can literally go across the country on the electric charge," said Hozza.

According to the company's website, the only Tesla dealership in Pennsylvania is in King of Prussia, Montgomery County, with another scheduled to open in Devon, Chester County.

Township commissioners are expected to vote to give Tesla's land development plan final conditional approval at their next meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 11.

Commissioners briefly mentioned that pending approval during the workshop session, but revealed no details of the plan.

On July 16, the township's planning commission recommended commissioners give the plan final approval, with conditions.

Hozza provided some additional details after the workshop.

He said the station will be built between Grape Street and the road that encircles the mall. It will be just west of the roadway that connects the Lehigh Valley and Whitehall malls at Grape Street.

The mayor said only Tesla's electric cars will be able to use the charging station.

But he predicted more and more charging stations will be cropping up near shopping centers in the future – some of them solar powered.

Hozza said PPL will supply electrical power to operate Whitehall's Tesla station.

He said he does not know how soon the station will be built, but added he would not be surprised "if they somehow pull off a miracle and get it up before Black Friday" – Nov. 28.

Rebuilding W. Columbia Street

This year the township still plans to do "full-depth reclamation" and resurfacing of West Columbia Street between Church Street and Ringer Road.

Just east of the work area, Columbia Street intersects Route 145 (MacArthur Road) next to the Weis grocery store.

Hozza explained the top layer of asphalt will be removed from the street and the base of the road will be mixed with concrete and water.
After that is leveled and dries for a couple of days, a new asphalt surface will be applied, creating "a roadway that should last at least
40 years."

A total of $365,000 is budgeted for the project.

Hozza called it one of the largest public works projects the township has undertaken in many years.

"Who got the bid and how much?" asked Commissioner Philip Ginder at the workshop.

"The bids are still out," said Hozza.

The mayor later explained township commissioners must approve spending the money at their meeting next week, because it is more than $25,000, but they do not have to approve hiring the lowest responsible bidder.

While most of that $365,000 will be spent to improve Columbia Street, the project also includes resurfacing Ruch Street, which divides Whitehall and the borough of Coplay.

That street work included replacing gas, water and sewer lines beneath Ruch.

The mayor said full-depth reclamation also will be done on portions of Ruch, but not the entire street.

He said some residents on both sides of Ruch Street had to replace curbing, sidewalks and driveway aprons.

Hozza noted Center Street between Route 145 and Ruch currently is closed for road work.

PennDOT buying a sliver of playground

Next week commissioners also plan to vote on a bill that will sell "a sliver" of the Wood Street playground to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for Route 22 improvements at the Fullerton Avenue interchange.

PennDOT will pay the township $1,000 for that narrow strip of land, which Hozza said is only a few inches wide.

The playground is located between Route 22 and Wood Street, just east of Fullerton Avenue.

Hozza said PennDOT came to the township with an offer to buy some park property several months ago, but the then state realized it needed more.

The mayor said that previous purchase was for $25,000 and included a masonry building in a corner of the park close along Fullerton Avenue.


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