Front Street traffic plans moving forward
Catasauqua’s Front Street Traffic Committee met April 28 to put plans and schedules together to turn Front Street into a two-way corridor.
“In our discussions with Taggart Associates, they said there is little interest from business owners and developers in the Iron Works site if Front Street is not two-way,” Councilwoman Christine Weaver said.
The borough hired Taggart Associates to help market the Iron Works site to developers and future business owners. The goal was to attract unique, boutique businesses to attract visitors to the new downtown area.
When initially proposed, the idea of two-way traffic on Front Street was greeted with skepticism. However, since the idea’s initial introduction, there has been little interest vocalized outside of committee members.
“Part of it might be that residents and owners aren’t concerned until we get closer to implementation,” Weaver said. (See related article, above.) The committee will start meeting every couple of weeks as plans move forward. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 12 at the borough municipal complex on Bridge Street.
The plan envisions removing parking on one side of the street. At the outset of the plan, Council President Vincent Smith promised that parking would be available for Front Street residents. Part of the task for the traffic committee is to identify parking areas. Mayor Barbara Schlegel suggested at a council meeting that the new plan be “trialed” to see what consequences evolved.
“I think [a trial run of two-way traffic flow] would be too confusing,” Councilwoman Debra Mellish said. “We have spent hours walking Front Street, and we pretty well know the situation.”
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is actively involved with the borough and the traffic committee to work out details. Smith asked the LVPC to review various ideas, one of which is angled parking.
“We might be able to get more spots with angled parking,” he said. “I know LVPC was not in favor of the idea because they are worried about cars backing onto the street.” There is some discussion on whether the street is wide enough to handle angled parking. Smith said he will check out the details.
“With the Iron Works site and emphasis on businesses, we might want to consider short-term parking,” Mellish said.
Implementing two-way traffic on Front Street is not scheduled until April 2017. “That date could change, but we want to keep it on schedule,” Weaver said. The first dates for action to get the plan started will be in August.
“We are still adjusting an implementation schedule,” Mellish said. Plans include meeting with property owners, getting agreements for additional shared parking spots and passing the required ordinances.
The traffic committee takes its responsibilities seriously. Traffic will be the focus of the borough’s effort in 2017.
PennDOT is planning changes for the Lehigh and Race streets intersection. They include widening the bridge on Race Street to accommodate turning lanes, traffic controls at Lehigh, Front and Second streets and traffic direction changes at Front and Second streets.
Bridge construction on Race Street across Catasauqua Creek will restrict traffic on Race Street through October.
Iron Works will be underway with changes at Bridge and Front streets as well, so traveling through the downtown area of the borough could involve multiple detours until the infrastructure is revised.