The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is asking Lehigh Township to consider two main requests pertaining to the development of a Wal-Mart within the township, including a roundabout at the supercenter’s main entrance.  

The Lehigh Township Planning Commission addressed PennDot’s recommendations at their Dec. 28 meeting, showing little favor for the idea of a roundabout at the intersection of Washington Drive and Route 145 as an alternative to a traffic light.

In a letter sent to the Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust, PennDot requested a roundabout at the location, calling it an “ideal location” with “no valid disadvantages” associated with its implementation. Members of the planning commission, however, were not favorable to the idea.

Vice Chairwoman Cynthia Miller was critical of the roundabout idea, as well as the diagram put forth by Wal-Mart’s engineers.

“My concern is how wide is this going to be to accommodate trucks?” Miller said. “Quite honestly, I want a better schematic than this. I’m not making a decision on this, I’m not going to recommend any kind of letter with this drawing.”

“They need to give us more information,” she said.

Township Engineer Phil Malitsch suggested that the planning commission should seek more information from the applicant’s engineer, including truck turning templates for the roundabout.

Planning Commission Chairman David Shulman echoed many of Miller’s concerns and provided some of his own.

“My concern, beside the fact that I don’t think a roundabout is appropriate, is that traffic will slow down tremendously, back up, and you will not be able to make a left-hand turn going south from Birch [Drive] onto [Route] 145 because there will be no way to break it,” Shulman said.

In addition to the roundabout, PennDot also is seeking written feedback from the township on a request that calls for a realignment of Birch Drive through the site to run perpendicular to Washington Drive.

Township planners weren’t very supportive of that measure either, with Miller holding firm to her position that she will not make any decision that could allow for truck traffic on Birch Drive.

Ultimately, the Lehigh Township Planning Commission declined to move forward with any written comments or feedback to PennDot before they receive more information regarding the two suggestions.

“Let’s get the additional information requested and we’ll discuss it further,” said Shulman.


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