The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is applying for a federal grant that could result in at least $38 million in road improvements in and around Lehigh Valley International Airport.

In an unrelated matter at their Thursday night meeting, members of the LVPC board were presented with a new traffic safety plan that identifies high crash road corridors and intersections throughout the Lehigh Valley,

And they got a preview of findings in a new regional housing plan that will be released publicly in draft form next month.

The planning commission unanimously passed a resolution supporting an application for a federal TIGER grant that would be used to create “a multi-modal corridor” around the airport, which LVPC executive director Becky Bradley called one of the most congested corridors in the region.

TIGER is an acronym for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.

The grant program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

To pursue the grant, LVPC has entered into an “innovative” public-private partnership with Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, Lehigh Valley Industrial Parks, Inc., and the airport land buying Rockefeller Group of New York City.

“Right now we’re up to a $38 million request,” said Bradley. “That may or may not go up.” She added it could be as high as $40 million.

The airport is in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. The proposed project area includes Airport Road, Schoenersville Road, Race Street, intersections adjacent to or connecting those roads, plus roads within the airport.

Bradley said Race Street would be widened “by a couple of lanes.” A section of Airport Road along the airport also would be widened.

Intersections would be improved, with retiming of signals, on Schoenersville Road from the intersection with Airport Road south to 8th Avenue in Bethlehem.

New gateway improvements would be made into the airport. A “multi-modal” bus, taxi and airport shuttle area would be created, as would a new traffic circulation pattern inside the airport property.

“There are a number of rear-end collisions as people pull into the airport,” said Bradley.

She said the application would not include improvements to Route 22 because they are included in another state/federal funding program.

Bradley said the application will be submitted Friday and LVPC will find out if it has won a grant by autumn.

“The project would have to be substantially underway and/or complete by 2016,” she said.

Save Driving Saves Lives

The unveiled traffic plan is called “Save Driving Saves Lives: Traffic Safety Plan for the Lehigh Valley 2008-2012” -- a misleading title, since we’re well into 2014.

The new study actually looks back at crashes that occurred between 2008 and 2012.

It reports there were a total of 36,878 crashes in Lehigh and Northampton counties during those five years – 263 involving fatalities and 18,164 causing injuries. A total of 290 people died and 25,455 were injured.

A goal of the plan is to find ways to reduce the five-year fatality average from 61 to 31 by 2030 and to reduce major injuries from 168 in
2010 to 84 in 2030.

One map in the report identifies 16 high crash corridors in the two counties; another lists 24 high crash intersections.

The end of the 83-page report contains charts showing different kinds of crashes in each municipality in the two counties.

Such reports are issued every other year, explained Chris Mukkadan, LVPC transportation engineer, but this one – which he wrote – offers more of a resource for municipalities.

“We put more emphasis on fatalities and major injuries and on significant crash sites in the Lehigh Valley,” said Mukkadan.