If you’re hoping a left turn arrow will soon be installed at the intersection of Main and Walnut streets in Hellertown to help alleviate rush hour congestion, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.
Borough Manager Cathy Hartranft told borough council Monday that a required 12-hour traffic study of the intersection won’t be conducted by PennDOT til the fall at the earliest. The data from the busiest two hours are used to determine whether or not an intersection meets the requirements.
The reason for the delay, Hartranft said, is that PennDOT traffic studies must be conducted while school is in session and during normal traffic conditions for the roadway or intersection.
This summer, traffic conditions at Walnut and Main are expected to be anything but normal due to increased congestion that’s expected to result from the replacement of the Water Street Bridge several blocks to the north.
On Wednesday it was announced that the bridge replacement project will begin immediately after Independence Day, which means it won’t be completed until early September, after the start of the new school year.
Lower Saucon Township officials said information about detours will be shared prior to the 60-day closure of the bridge, which was built in 1938 and is being replaced due to structural deficiencies.
The Walnut Street bridge is the next bridge across the Saucon Creek immediately to the south of Water Street, and is approximately 50 years old.
The last time a full traffic study was conducted at Walnut and Main streets was in 2004, when one was necessitated by the construction of what today is a Rite Aid drugstore, borough officials said.
Borough council president Tom Rieger said traffic counts have taken place there over the intervening 15 years, but the installation of a left turn arrow requires favorable results from a full study.
Rieger said “the general feeling” is that PennDOT officials are skeptical that the intersection will meet the minimum requirements for one or more left turn arrows.
He noted that even if it does, the borough will have to pay for the arrow(s) at a cost of approximately $5,000 each, as well as any related costs.
The borough has the funding that would be needed, and it would simply be a matter of deciding how to source it, Rieger said.