During their meeting on Tuesday, February 28, the Allen Township Board of Supervisors discussed the impending closure of Indian Trail Road. PennDOT plans to close the road in “the next couple of months” as demolition nd reconstruction begin on the Indian Trail Road Bridge.
While local roads will remain open, Township Manager Ilene Eckhart predicts traffic troubles.
“It’s going to be a hassle, especially for the first couple of weeks,” she told supervisors.
There will only be one detour route for trucks and cars. This detour will direct traffic up Kreidersville Road to Walnut Drive and Route 248. Because of this, supervisors are concerned about tractor-trailer traffic driving down Indian Trail Road and not having room to turn around once they reach the closed bridge.
“If we get trucks on any [local] roads, it is going to be a real nightmare,” added Eckhart.
Supervisor Gary Behler said “No Truck Traffic” signs should be “very apparent” at the intersection of Indian Trail and Kreidersville roads.
Supervisor Dale Hassler would like PennDOT to take further precaution by blocking half of Indian Trail Road so only vehicles can enter. He also said a semi-barrier should be placed at Millrace and Kohls roads, limiting these streets to local traffic only.
While the township will explore these cautionary measures, they will also notify neighboring Northampton Borough to expect impacts on Cherryville Road.
Hassler, the township’s fire chief, added that the fire department already has rescue routes figured out for homes on Indian Trail Road.
Construction is expected to last until September 2024.
Traffic also continues to be a concern on Willowbrook Road. Eckhart has communicated with the owners of the Geodis property to address the queuing issues caused by increased tractor-trailer traffic.
The property owners are currently working with tenants to address these issues. In the meantime, Eckhart has asked the state police to increase monitoring in the area. Supervisors have also approved a draft ordinance prohibiting parking, standing, or stopping on both sides of Willowbrook Road.
In other news, supervisors also heard a zoning amendment request from Jaindl-Watson for 558 Savage Rd.
This nine-acre plot of land is currently zoned neighborhood-commercial. Although the land was rezoned for Jaindl to allow for the construction of retail and restaurants, the developer has argued that commercial space is no longer marketable. Instead, they asked supervisors whether they would consider a text amendment to allow apartments on the property as a conditional use.
Nicole Galio, Director of Engineering and Design, said 80 units would be developed on 3.75 acres. The remaining land would serve as open space. Apartment buildings would be three stories (35 feet) high.
Supervisors were not on board with this request. Hassler said he would not approve three-story apartments due to fire safety concerns. He also cited the property’s past rezoning battle. At the time, Jaindl proposed apartments. That plan was rejected by supervisors and rezoned to allow for retail space instead.
“The zoning was changed…for the Jaindl people in the first place,” he said.
“I am surprised you are saying [retail] is not marketable,” added Behler. He said a selling point for rezoning the property was that it would be close to residential areas so residents could walk to shops and restaurants. Improvements, like a pedestrian bridge and walking path, have already been added to the property.
“Whether it is marketable or not is not really Allen Township’s problem,” he said. Supervisors unanimously agreed.
Finally, Jacob Schock, president of the Allen Township Volunteer Fire Company, presented the company’s apparatus plan update.
The department is still waiting on the delivery of a new pumper truck, which was approved in August 2021. The truck should have been delivered in October 2022. However, manufacturing and material delays have postponed that delivery until the end of 2023.
“What used to be a 15-to-18-month process is now a four-year process,” Schock explained to supervisors.
The fire company has planned to replace its 20-year-old tanker and its 15-year-old engine, consolidating both into one truck. This new truck will transport six to eight firefighters and be more efficient and maintainable for the department. Because of delays, Schock says the fire department must accelerate its planning.
“It is apparent to us that buying trucks is not the way it used to be,” he said. “To stay within the 20-year replacement cycle, we need to move faster.”
Supervisors agreed, with Behler adding that it is the township’s responsibility to ensure the fire department gets the equipment they need.
Supervisors asked Schock to start the process by collecting details, specs, manufacturer and product lists, and costs.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be Tuesday, March 14 at 6 p.m. Supervisors will also hold a Capital Improvements Plan workshop on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m.