Northampton Press

Saturday, August 19, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMILLeRoy Brobst, left, borough manager for Northampton, chats with Rick Molchany, director of general services for Lehigh County, about the Coplay-Northampton Bridge during a Get the Facts luncheon presented May 30 by the Whitehall and Northampton Chambers of Commerce. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMILLeRoy Brobst, left, borough manager for Northampton, chats with Rick Molchany, director of general services for Lehigh County, about the Coplay-Northampton Bridge during a Get the Facts luncheon presented May 30 by the Whitehall and Northampton Chambers of Commerce.
PRESS PHOTO BY AL RECKERA shuttle waits to take passengers between Northampton and Coplay now that the bridge is closed. The Northampton stop is at Ninth and Main streets, at the north end of the large apartment building. The Coplay stop is at North Front Street, just north of Chestnut Street. PRESS PHOTO BY AL RECKERA shuttle waits to take passengers between Northampton and Coplay now that the bridge is closed. The Northampton stop is at Ninth and Main streets, at the north end of the large apartment building. The Coplay stop is at North Front Street, just north of Chestnut Street.

Bridge, Iron Works projects detailed at Chamber luncheon

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce and Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Get the Facts luncheon at Northampton Banquet & Events Center May 30.

Richard Molchany, Lehigh County director of general services, and Elliot Nolter, project manager for Spillman Farmer Architects, were the featured speakers.

Molchany addressed the Coplay-Northampton Bridge project, giving a quick overview of the $2.5 billion in road improvements scheduled for the Lehigh Valley.

Molchany alluded to the expected three-year time frame for construction. The bridge closed May 31.

“We can’t be in the river between April and June. (It’s an) environmental issue. Fish are spawning,” he said. “And we want to do the transportation properly. It needs to last for a hundred years.”

One unique aspect during the construction is a pedestrian shuttle.

“From our data, there are 100 people who walk across the bridge every day. We set up a shuttle that will run from the Coplay side of the bridge to the Northampton side,” Molchany said.

Traffic will be detoured across the Hokendauqua-North Catasauqua Bridge. There was not as much concern about the Hokendauqua detour as the expected congestion in Northampton. Of particular concern is added congestion at the Second Street light by the Lafarge plant in Cementon.

“I think people will figure a way around the congestion,” Molchany said.

According to Molchany, the Coplay-Northampton Bridge detour is 2.2 miles.

The Northampton-Cementon Bridge is the next span on the schedule.

“We are now becoming the intermodal hub for the Northeast,” Molchany said. “We believed all the data we had saying that I-78 would relieve the congestion on Route 22, but we grew fast.

“Traffic will grow; for every truck you see now, there will be two trucks,” he said. “For every two cars, that will grow to three.”

Nolter’s presentation on Catasauqua’s Iron Works project highlighted the dynamic history of the site and the progress made. According to Nolter, Iron Works is destined to change the character of Catasauqua. The new municipal building is expected to be open in July. The borough is reaching out to developers to take over the remaining part of the site.

Front Street is converted back to two-way traffic and becomes the primary downtown corridor. Nolter’s firm, Spillman Farmer, has a concept plan for the area.

“This is the only land that Catasauqua has to grow,” he said.

Trail connections are the key recreational element at the Iron Works site.

Ironton Rail Trail (IRT) representatives were there in force. Molchany committed to keeping the trail open during bridge construction. The IRT wants to see a connection to the D&L in Cementon and a connection into Catasauqua.

“The IRT is a model that communities use. It’s the only trail run by volunteers,” IRT Commission member Ray Bieak said. “When municipalities take over trails, they deteriorate. When something needs repair on the IRT, we get it done.”