The intersection of Route 100 and Schoeneck Road in Lower Macungie Township should become safer sometime next year.
Plans to relocate Schoeneck Road and widen that stretch of Route 100 were shown to township commissioners Thursday night.
Commissioners voted to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to install and operate traffic lights at the relocated intersection.
The existing intersection has become more dangerous because of increasing tractor-trailer traffic coming and going to new warehouses west of Route 100.
Ron Eichenberg, chairman of the commissioners, said the existing intersection is a hazard about which people are complaining “ad infinitum.”
Relocating and improving the intersection will cost about $2.5 million, said township engineer William Erdman, but Lower Macungie won’t be picking up that tab. He said it will be paid by two developers: Jaindl Land Company and Panattoni.
The developers still need approval to make the improvements from both the State Transportation and Environmental Protection departments, said Alan Fornwalt, a project engineer at Keystone Consulting Engineers. He said PennDOT currently is reviewing those plans.
Rather than curving to the right, as the existing Schoeneck Road does just before the existing intersection, a new section of Schoeneck will be added that meets Route 100 farther to the north.
That new section will have dual left turn lanes for traffic coming up Schoeneck to turn north onto Route 100.
The project includes widening Route 100 from Quarry Road to just south of the existing Schoeneck Road intersection. Route 100 will have one lane northbound one lane southbound, as it does now. But a center lane will be added, for traffic wishing to turn left from either direction, and a right lane will be added for southbound traffic to turn right onto Schoeneck.
There also will be a left turn lane for northbound traffic to turn onto the new stretch of Schoeneck Road.
Even though Route 100 is a state highway, the township will own the traffic signals at the new intersection.
The existing Route 100/Schoeneck Road intersection will not be eliminated. But it will be “reduced,” said Fornwalt, and it will not get traffic signals. He said it will only be used by people turning right off southbound Route 100 and by those turning right off that road onto southbound Route 100.
Fornwalt said that existing section of Schoeneck probably will be mostly used by residents of a few homes along that stretch.
Several commissioners indicated they do not want trucks on that short section of “old” Schoeneck Road. When the intersection nears completion, they plan to take steps to ban trucks from that stretch, including posting signs.
Commissioner James Lancsek said trucks will want to use the new intersection, because visibility is terrible at the existing intersection. Fornwalt noted that intersection is not perpendicular to Route 100, but the new intersection will be.
Eichenberg asked why the existing Schoeneck/100 intersection is not just being completely eliminated. Fornwalt said it was decided that maintaining convenient access for residents living there would be beneficial.
Eichenberg named another intersection along Lower Macungie Road in the township that is supposed to be “right turn in, right turn out” but indicated people ignore that.
Lancsek said if the existing Schoeneck/100 intersection would be eliminated, a cul-de-sac would have to be created, which involves taking additional right-of-way and adding to the expense -- partially because an old quarry hidden by trees is along that section of the road. He said cul-de-sacs also complicate snowplowing.
After the new intersection is completed, Erdman predicted more people living in the Hills at Lock Ridge development between Alburtis and Macungie will come up Schoeneck Road to reach Route 100. He added even people who live in Alburtis might use Schoeneck.