Catasauqua Press

Friday, August 17, 2018
PRESS PHOTOS BY PAUL CMILThe roadwork at the Race Street and Willowbrook Road intersection is mostly complete. FedEx wants to start using its warehouse this month, with full operations ready by October. PRESS PHOTOS BY PAUL CMILThe roadwork at the Race Street and Willowbrook Road intersection is mostly complete. FedEx wants to start using its warehouse this month, with full operations ready by October.
The bypass road, veering off to the right, allows workers to place stormwater management pipes under Willowbrook Road, the straight road to the left. The bypass road, veering off to the right, allows workers to place stormwater management pipes under Willowbrook Road, the straight road to the left.
Construction is just starting farther up on Race Street, closer to Airport Road. Rockefeller Group says the biggest problems are completed and targets completion in November. Construction is just starting farther up on Race Street, closer to Airport Road. Rockefeller Group says the biggest problems are completed and targets completion in November.

Hanover gets FedEx warehouse update

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Willowbrook, Race work nearly finished; Airport Rd. project just starting

With Allen Township ready to give a certificate of occupancy to FedEx Ground, Hanover Township asked Rockefeller Group for an update at its meeting Aug. 1.

Johanna Chervak brought her staff to the meeting to present a detailed plan. The delay in the Willowbrook Road and Race Street area is primarily because utility work added complications.

Some areas had weak subsoils.

Township Engineer Albert Kortze praised the specialized grout methodology used to firm the substructure. When Hanover Township revamped the intersection more than five years ago, there were similar problems.

Chervak pointed out an unexpected problem with an old dilapidated water main that needed to be rebuilt.

Mike Leondi, who oversees the contractors, came equipped with phased development plans. He cited phase 2A, construction on the south side of Race Street.

“The utility work is complete, and the road surfacing is underway,” he said.

Sections of the new road are being used to facilitate construction of other lanes.

Phase 2B widens the bypass lanes while construction continues on the main road.

As Leondi explained, FedEx wants to start using the warehouse this month. Chervak clarified the operational sequence.

“FedEx will bring in staff to set up the warehouse and then start relocating four local delivery centers into the location,” she said.

The setup team takes care of the details. The setup team is not expected to put a heavy load on Willowbrook Road or the corridor to Route 22.

As the local delivery centers are incorporated into their new home base, panel trucks and box trucks will become the norm. The expected traffic increase is why the bypass road will be widened.

Phases 3A and 3B improve and activate the lower section of Willowbrook Road in Hanover Township while improving the road surface on the north side of Race Street at the intersection. PennDOT encourages road contractors to work on one side of the road at a time. The south side of the road is part of phase 2. Improvements to Race Street heading toward Catasauqua are made during phase 3.

Phase 4 gets rid of the bypass and completes the intersection. Leondi expects phase 4 to be completed about the time FedEx brings in the larger tractor-trailers.

Council had concerns. Councilman Curtis Wegfahrt worried about truck safety while using the bypass.

“That’s why we want to be sure to widen the shoulders on the bypass to make it safe for the additional traffic,” Leondi said.

Chervak said the local facilities would be moving in during September and October with full operations ready to go October through December. The latter part of the year is a busy season for FedEx.

Leondi is targeting late November for completing the entire corridor. Earlier predictions had October as a tentative target.

The presented plan is approved by PennDOT and is considered sufficient to meet the agreements made with the township on traffic flows.

“The big issues are addressed,” Chervak said.

“We can’t predict any additional delays. They will get addressed as we get to them,” Leondi cautioned.

Councilman Robert Heimbecker commented he heard no encouraging news about an expansion on Route 22 at the latest county traffic improvement meeting.

“Expansion dollars needed to handle the increased traffic on Route 22 are slated for 2022. We’re going to see heavy backups just as we predicted,” he said.