Two long-awaited road construction projects in the Lehigh Valley are scheduled to begin on Monday.
In Easton, the so-called Ring Road around Center Square is being converted to two-way traffic.
And in Lower Saucon Township, south of Hellertown, demolition contractors are scheduled to mobilize and put up signage Monday at the Meadows Road Bridge ahead of Tuesday’s expected start of demolition, community officials announced.
Work on the Meadows Road Bridge will begin on the eastern half of the closed span across Saucon Creek before moving to the western half.
The demolition is expected to take about two weeks. Lower Saucon advises all residents in the area to maintain a safe distance from the work area during demolition and to ensure vehicles are parked in a location that will not impede equipment access to the site.
The bridge was decommissioned in April 2018 for “serious deterioration” in a bid to find funds for a solution to the crumbling structure, built in the 1850s.
The decision to demolish or repair it was made by local officials last year when part of the bridge collapsed into the creek, leaving a large hole on one side of the bridge and a pile of rocks in the water below. The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study approved $350,000 in federal funding for the emergency demolition a year ago.
Northampton County Council then last month amended the contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to reflect the increasing costs for a total bill of $715,433.63, 80% of which will be federally funded ($572,346.90), the remainder ($143,086, $73) comes from the county.
The May 19 unanimous vote allowed for the expedited demolition of the bridge, with engineering underway for eventual replacement due to the dangerous safety state of the existing structure.
Under a plan accepted after a public review in December 2019, Easton’s two-way ring road redevelopment project will be carried out by PennDOT, which will also install new sidewalks around Center Square and red-yellow-green traffic signs in place of the flashing red- There are yellow ones now. The work coincides with the city’s ongoing $1.1 million improvement project to expand Center Square’s park around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
The conversion will affect Ferry Street from South Fourth to South Second Street, Second Street to Spring Garden Street, and Spring Garden to North Fourth Street. Fourth Street was converted from a southbound one-way street to a two-way street in 2015.
Looking to improve traffic flow in downtown Easton, work on the remaining ring roads, which will convert to two-way traffic, is scheduled to begin Monday and last about three weeks, city officials said Friday. Weather permitting, the conversion is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth week of July. Easton Heritage Day is July 10th.
According to the city:
- PennDOT company Grace Industries, based in East Allen Township, will complete the rebuild in sections. The city closes each section of road before work begins with barricades and road closure signs placed at the starting point where the road is closed to all traffic. The Easton Police Department will put up signs for all closures 72 hours in advance to allow drivers to move their cars. Cars that are not moving will be towed away.
- The city expects each section to be closed for just one day. When a road reopens, it will be in place and operational with the new bidirectional pattern. The project will begin on Ferry Street between South Fourth Street and South Third Street. Next is Ferry Street from South Third Street to South Second Street and further up South Second Street to Northampton Street.
- The intersection at Spring Garden and North Second Street is currently undergoing a mandatory traffic survey with consideration being given to removing the traffic light there. They, along with the intersections at North Third and Spring Garden Streets and North Fourth and Spring Garden Streets, will be completed once the survey is complete.
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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at [email protected].