LDG Design Solutions Help PennDOT Remedy Challenging Highway Stretch Near Allentown

The redesign of Pennsylvania Route 145, known as MacArthur Road, a four-lane, one-mile long corridor traveled daily by 40,000 motorists, garnered a Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Award for its innovation, community engagement and effectiveness in remedying a challenging stretch of highway near Allentown.

Before – Old bridge at SR-145-Municipal Drive. New low maintenance concrete box culvert at SR 145 Municipal Drive

In the early 2000’s this stretch bore the notoriety as having the highest intersection accident rate of any corridor in PennDOT District 5-0. The client sought to improve commuter and pedestrian safety and reduce congestion while minimizing impacts on neighboring properties, environmentally sensitive sites and cultural resources. Multiple land uses ranged from commercial, agricultural and residential properties to cemeteries, churches, and schools and an effective collaboration with the client, Whitehall Township and the Planning Commission.

Standing on SR 145 at Lehigh Street Looking North

The design needed to encompass three bridges, four traffic signals, eight intersecting roadways and many commercial driveways. The project included many aspects of larger, more complex projects and required significant coordination with a host of issues:

  1. The post construction stormwater management facilities were fairly new to PennDOT and also had to satisfy the Department of Environmental Protection and the Lehigh Valley Stormwater Commission.
  2. Numerous conflicting overhead and underground utilities were scattered throughout the corridor requiring numerous coordination meetings.
  3. The project impacted the access and frontage of several commercial entities requiring special meetings with owners and managers.
  4. There were minor impacts to Saint John’s Cemetery which required several meetings with the cemetery governing body to determine what acceptable mitigation could be placed in the construction contract.
  5. Regular meetings were conducted with the township and the planning commission to not only get their valuable input but keep them abreast of project progress throughout design and construction.

Looking north at front of St Johns church. Note minimal impact to building frontage in after photo

LDG’s solution included the following analysis/design features:

Center line – A concrete median barrier was placed throughout to prevent cross-over traffic.

Standing on Lehigh Street looking east

Intersections – Designated left turn lanes were added at all intersections and designated right turn lanes were added at several others. Coordinated traffic signal timings were implemented throughout the corridor. The MacArthur Road/Lehigh Street intersection was reconfigured to an at-grade signalized T which involved removal of an abandoned railroad bridge, overpass bridge and roadway loop and reduction of the roadway grade by about four feet to remove the substandard vertical curve and improve sight distance. Curb and bituminous paving were constructed for a future fourth leg of the MacArthur Road intersections with Municipal Drive and Lehigh Street.

Standing on Lehigh street looking toward SR 145. Note elimination of abonded RR bridge and overpass

Stormwater Management – Included the most current methods for accommodation of rainwater runoff and infiltration. New rain gardens and infiltration systems promote groundwater recharge and provide ecologically beneficial facilities where none previously existed.

Standing on municipal drive looking west toward SR-145

Traffic – a complex 13-stage traffic control plan was developed to allow the busy road to function near previous capacity during construction. LDG developed cross-sections for the critical stages of construction where constraints were tight, and the grade was changing in elevation.

Standing on SR 145 at Lehigh Street looking south

Storm Sewer Pipes – For the older underground drainage pipes that needed attention but were still in reasonable condition, innovative technology was used to line them with a UV spray-on liner to extend their life. Where they were no longer needed or in poor shape, they were filled with flowable concrete backfill. This technology prevented deep and difficult excavation through both bituminous and concrete roadway pavement where traffic was very heavy and shoulders were narrow.

Scope of Work: LDG served as prime consultant from alternatives analysis through construction consultation, and was responsible for highway/bridge design, public involvement, and managing traffic, environmental and geotechnical sub-consultants.

Highway – environmental investigations; traffic analysis; alternate alignment studies; roadway design, including setting the new horizontal and vertical alignment; pavement design; stormwater management, erosion and sediment control; traffic control, utility coordination and right-of-way; coordination with township and commercial partners; and public involvement.

Bridge: structure design and demolition, hydrologic and hydraulic studies.

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