What should the City traffic consultants study?

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Kim Carrell-Smith is a 31-year resident of Bethlehem’s historic Southside, where she taught public history at Lehigh University for almost two decades. She is also an aspiring gadfly, buzzing in on issues of historic preservation, public education, city government, and other social justice issues. She tips her wings to the master gadflies who have served our community for so long!


As residents of the west side of Lehigh’s campus, we use two routes to cross the Southside while avoiding 3rd and 4th Streets, and based on our observations and the current traffic on Summit and W.8th Street, so do a lot of other people.

The more common of two cross-Southside patterns now from 378/Wyandotte is to turn at the blinking light onto Summit Street, go down Summit to take a left on Brodhead, and a right on Packer. The other route which is less busy these days has drivers turning off 378 at the blinking light at W.8th Street, one block above Summit. This is the route we take at rush hour or school bus time, crossing through Lehigh’s campus via W.8th Street, which becomes University Drive.  We often follow folks who are on the same cross route, heading for Taylor Street, E.6th Street, Hillside Avenue, and/or Hayes Street.

With the Packer Avenue closure between Vine and Webster, the current more commonly used cut-through at Summit may become less popular. Brodhead traffic already tends to back up the hill at rush hour and it will probably be worse with the new traffic patterns, particularly with the increase in Morton Street traffic turning on and off of Brodhead; we appreciate that the city has already promised to look at that as part of their traffic study. But maybe, as noted at the meeting, folks will wait out the backup, and go further down to take one of the big arteries rather than turning onto Morton? Both the 378 eastbound Summit-Morton cross-Southside route (including whatever may occur at the east end of that), as well as the 4th/3rd cross routes, should be part of the traffic study.

But we suspect that the W.8th Street/upper campus eastbound route will become more appealing to drivers seeking to cross the Southside while avoiding major traffic backups. So, as one young man at the meeting said, the city’s consultants should also study the changes in traffic on the upper campus.

So please, city traffic consultants, study

  • the W.8th-University Drive cross-Southside route
  • the Summit-Morton cross-Southside route
    • And please include the traffic that may bolt off of Summit or W.8th Streets onto Carlton and Montclair Avenues…
  • the effects on traffic on 4th and 3rd Streets, too.

And, please

  • consider retiming the very long light at 4th and Brodhead to ease the backup on Brodhead

Whew, these could be some busy traffic engineers! So I’ll leave any east-of-campus traffic study requests to folks who live over there . . .


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