After a year-long study of borough road conditions, parking opportunities, and traffic impacts, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission presented Borough of Bath residents and council members with the results of its Multimodal Safety and Parking Analysis.
Through its analysis, the LVPC developed strategies to help the borough ensure safety for all pedestrians, improve parking, and prepare for future growth. Among the LVPC’s findings were that 30 percent of roads have a Condition 5 rating, which is considered the lowest road condition rating. Roads are also different widths and feature different speed limits, which makes them less safe. There are currently six projected PennDOT road improvement projects in the borough, including Route 248 resurfacing and realignment. However, traffic is projected to increase by nearly 30 percent over the next 10 to 20 years. While this will present challenges, the commission said it will also present opportunities for Bath to partner with neighboring communities on road improvements and funding.
Parking was also a major priority in the LVPC’s study. The organization found that “perceptions regarding the parking situation and traffic impacts in the borough do not entirely line up with the reality revealed.”
There are 255 public, on-street parking spaces available in the borough, a majority of which are not used. After several random studies, the LVPC found that little more than 30 percent of spaces are utilized during the day, while only 50 to 60 percent of spaces are utilized in the evenings. In addition, there are an estimated 919 off-street parking spaces, though unclear markings make it hard for the LVPC to identify whether that is an accurate number.
The LVPC recommended delineating on-street parking spaces with striping to make it easier for drivers to identify spots. The commission also recommended creating a public borough parking map and improving public parking signage. Finally, the commission recommended more paid parking spaces to dissuade negative parking behavior and help the borough raise funds.
There were a variety of other recommendations the commission made to help improve parking, traffic, and even tourism in the borough. One of those long-term recommendations was converting Mill Street into a designated truck route, which would remove truck traffic from South Chestnut Street and reduce the number of accidents at South Chestnut and Northampton Streets.
Other recommendations included connecting the Delaware and Lehigh Trail to Bath, which would improve recreational opportunities and pedestrian activities. Pedestrian traffic was a popular topic during the presentation, since most of Bath is accessible within a fifteen minute walk. More pedestrian-friendly features would alleviate parking and traffic pressure, and contribute to a healthier environment. Parklets, the widening of sidewalks, more seating options, improved landscaping, community gardens, and more would encourage pedestrians to linger in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. These improvements would also help revitalize Bath’s historic district in the face of future growth.