During the June 13 East Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting, representatives from PennDOT appeared before a packed room to review preliminary planning for a bridge replacement project on Route 512. Although not estimated for construction until 2027, the proposed project could have significant impacts on area traffic and neighboring properties. 

Mike McGuire, a senior project manager working with PennDOT, and John Ziemblicki, a design engineer with Pickering, Corts & Summerson, showcased several proposed solutions for replacing the 101-year-old bridge that crosses the Monocacy Creek and sought public comments and opinions. 

“I won’t sugar coat it,” said McGuire. “This is not an easy project.”

Flooding and creek erosion have damaged the bridge, which sees about 10,000 vehicles per day. The bridge must be structurally repaired and widened to allow for a better flow of traffic and the addition of pedestrian sidewalks. However, adjacent to the bridge are a gas main, a gas pumping station and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. 

McGuire said his team has looked at various ways to remove and replace the bridge. The bridge cannot be left in its current position, as the widening would hit the nearby railroad tracks. Shifting the bridge south, meanwhile, would result in a nine-month closure. 

“We do not have any place to put that traffic,” McGuire said, adding that Route 191, Route 329 and Airport Road cannot absorb more vehicles. 

The only option would be to realign Route 512 to the east or the west, impacting several neighboring properties. Realigning the major road to the east would mean the loss of two homes and pieces of several other properties. Realigning to the west would mean losing one home and several partial pieces of property. 

“We found shifting alignment to the west to be less impactful,” McGuire continued. “But there are going to be impacts.”

The widened road would start at the Locust Road intersection and consist of two 12-foot lanes with 8-foot shoulders. Route 512 would remain open during construction, with the realignment built alongside the existing road.  

Bob Mills, chairman of the East Allen Township Planning Commission, called the plan “shortsighted.” He said engineers have not considered upgrades needed to neighboring intersections to improve safety, such as signals or turning lanes. For example, he said traffic attempting to turn left from Route 512 onto Locust Road creates backups and causes accidents.

His concerns were echoed by fellow planning commission member Marty Chamberlain. He asked whether the future Traditions of America senior living community proposed for Route 512 could contribute to the signal cost since traffic will only increase. 

Resident Karen Deichman of Locust Road also asked that engineers consider the proposed Bright Farms greenhouses in the area, which will bring up to 75 trucks daily. She also asked whether residents with impacted properties will receive resources. 

“We knew that something was going to go on, but we didn’t think it was going to be this much,” she said. “So it’s kind of a little bit shocking.”

Other residents asked what would happen if the bridge needed to be widened even more to accommodate future traffic. 

McGuire admitted that this has not been addressed. 

“We are basically focused on trying to keep the existing structure operational while providing upgrades,” said McGuire. 

In other news, residents of Regency at Creekside Meadows (RACM) along Route 512 also appeared before supervisors to voice concerns over truck traffic and a neighboring dilapidated property. 

Tractor trailers traveling southbound on Route 512 are pulling to the side of the road to idle, creating dangerous conditions for passing vehicles, obstructing views for turning vehicles and destroying turf that belongs to the HOA at RACM. The HOA estimates that they have paid thousands to repair this damage. 

Township Manager Brent Green and supervisors explained that signage could be added to the road to prohibit parking (with PennDOT’s approval), but the township does not have a police force to enforce the signage. They cited other roads in the township that have similar signage that goes ignored. 

“With no police behind you, there’s nothing you can do,” said Supervisor Roger Unangst.

In addition, RACM residents voiced complaints about deterioration at the site of the former Amore Farms Greenhouse on Route 512. 

Green said no official complaints have been filed against the property, but if residents of RACM file a complaint, the township can open an investigation. In addition, the township is currently investigating Amazon trucks illegally using the site without a permit. 

The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be Thursday, June 27 at 7 p.m. 

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