• September 24, 2023

Upper Saucon warehouse plan puts more traffic on `high-crash’ Route 309 corridor, LVPC says

Three warehouses that will be built off Route 309 will add traffic to a “high-crash corridor,” according to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

The commission recommends that if developer Kay Builder’s proposal for Upper Saucon Township winds up employing more than 800 people, additional traffic studies should be carried out.

The warehouses comprising the Route 309 Commerce Center will cover a total of 1.77 million square feet on a 119-acre site east of Route 309 and just south of the former Center Valley Golf Course.

The largest building will be 1.15 million square feet, covering 26 acres or about 20 football fields. The other buildings will be 535,360 and 82,500 square feet.

The project is a big one but was worked out with the township after litigation was filed. The result was preferred to some earlier plans. When the proposal was unveiled at Southern Lehigh Middle School in 2021, there was no booing, there were no claims of corruption and no shouted insults at township officials, unlike some at other public meetings in the Lehigh Valley.

“It was never going to remain a cornfield,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Brian Farrell said at the 2021 meeting. Residents agreed. Earlier plans proposed by Kay would have added hundreds of houses in Upper Saucon, putting a strain on the Southern Lehigh School District. Some residents thanked the board for negotiating the plan with Kay.

Traffic remains an issue, according to the LVPC. Its Comprehensive Planning Committee reviewed the proposal Tuesday and sent it to the full commission for a vote on Thursday.

The estimated number of trips generated by the three big-box buildings is 4,042 per day, with 1,056 of them made by trucks. About a quarter of those trucks may head south on Route 309, while most of the rest will make their way to Route 378.

Once the Commerce Center has been built and a reconstruction of the Route 309/Center Valley interchange is done, “the crash rate should be monitored on a continual basis,” according to the LVPC staff report read by Brian Hite, transportation planner.

The commission also reviewed Waste Management Inc.’s plan for a recycling center in Plainfield Township. That plan was also forwarded to the full commission.

The full board of the LVPC will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. The meeting will be virtual and links and the agenda are available on the commission’s website.

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