Northampton Press

Thursday, September 20, 2018

East Allen officials hear Jaindl plans

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Proposal changed to adjust Seemsville Road, Route 329 intersection

David Jaindl got his slot on East Allen Township’s agenda May 9 to explain his proposed development along Seemsville Road. Although there was some concern that Jaindl’s planning team moved without consulting East Allen Township, Jaindl pointed out a preliminary meeting, which East Allen officials attended, was held early on in the project.

Jaindl worked with Allen Township because the bulk of the project is within its borders. Ann- Marie Vigilante, engineer on the project, said the preliminary plan presented is markedly different from the original plan.

“We modified the plan based on input we received from local meetings and various township officials,” she said.

The plan adds 2.5 million square feet of warehouse space on property originally owned by Northampton Area School District. The original purchase reserved the land for a new school building. The proposed warehouse plan allows room for school expansion, although no plans are imminent.

As Vigilante explained, the configuration presented to East Allen was preliminary and has not yet been formally sent to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or Allen Township. Both PennDOT and Allen Township reviewed the preliminary plan.

The most noticeable change is adjusting the intersection of Seemsville Road and Route 329. The intersection is moved farther south, and the existing road is converted to a cul-de-sac. Right- and left-turning lanes are added with long access ramps to accommodate trucks. Sight lines are improved. The precise location of the new intersection was determined by PennDOT.

Seemsville Road is expanded to three lanes.

Vigilante announced smaller projects at Savage Road and Frank’s Corner designed to improve safety and traffic flow along Route 329 from the new warehouse complex. The improvements include coordinated traffic signals, longer access approaches to dedicated turning lanes, emergency vehicle preference signaling and stop light alerts. The plan adds a flashing light, activated during an emergency, at the township ambulance headquarters.

Vigilante said the goal was to look at the entire transportation network around the warehouses. The plan incorporates stormwater detention facilities to accommodate water from the roadways serving the warehouses.

The biggest concern for East Allen Township is the increase in traffic. The traffic study shows 4,000 trips a day split between truck and automobiles. Chairman Roger Unangst estimates another 2,000 trips from proposed warehouses located near Route 329 and Savage Road.

Unangst asked Vigilante to add a request to direct traffic down Savage Road to Willowbrook Road. The original plan for the FedEx Ground warehouse restricted traffic traveling north on Willowbrook.

Unangst argues that conditions are changing with warehouse development on Route 329. He indicated truck traffic could be forced onto this alternate path during backups, and an increase in truck traffic on Savage Road should be planned for.

The revised Jaindl plan will be presented to Allen Township at its planning commission meeting May 21.

After the Jaindl presentation, traffic remained the major concern. Most residents took the traffic count and added it to the existing traffic flow. There is a question on the 4,000 trips, estimated by Vigilante, on whether it included existing traffic. Vigilante did not respond to a request for clarification.

It is debatable if East Allen can significantly alter the revised plan. Residents have stated they do not want to see major changes to the township brought about with this or any warehouse development.

In their comments, residents indicated they chose to live in East Allen Township because of its ex-urban nature and its quality of life. They want it to stay that way, they said.