The Gene Hartzell Memorial Bridge crosses the Lehigh River in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania and was constructed as part of a 3.5 mile extension of State Route 33 from US 22 south to Interstate 78. The project improved access from the region to New York City and Northern New Jersey.
Project Type:Bridge Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:59,000 Length (mi):0.40
Economic Distress:0.98 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):776 Population Growth Rate (%):1.48
Employment Growth Rate (%):2.44 Market Size:239,825 Airport Travel Distance:18 Topography:16
Region:New England/Mid-Atlantic State:PA County:Northampton County
City:Bethlehem Urban/Class Level:Mixed Local Area:City N/A
Impact Area:Northampton County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:40.641906 / -75.276967
Initial Study Date:1998 Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:2000 Constr. End Date:2002
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2000 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):42,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):52,512,927
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||154.81||105.35||260.16|
|Output (in $M's)||466.09||317.16||783.25|
The Gene Hartzell Memorial Bridge crosses the Lehigh River in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania (near Easton). The bridge was constructed between 2000 and 2002 for $42 million ($2000) as part of a 3.5 mile extension of State Route 33 from US 22 south to Interstate 78. The project improved access from the region to New York City and Northern New Jersey. The opening of the bridge has spurred significant development along SR 33, including several shopping centers, a new medical facility and an industrial park that is home to automotive operations for BMW and Porsche. The project has generated 3,000 jobs to date, with thousands more expected at the industrial park in the future.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Bethlehem Township is located between the cities of Easton and Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. New York City is 70 miles to the east via Interstate 78 and Philadelphia is 70 miles south via I-78 and I-476. The closest commercial airport is the Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, five miles from Bethlehem. Larger international airports are located in New York City and Philadelphia. The Port of New York/New Jersey provides international shipping options for the Bethlehem area.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The Lehigh Valley Region (which also includes Allentown) has traditionally focused on steel manufacturing but has also been a major center for research and education through the presence of several universities (Lafayette College, Lehigh University, and others). The area also attracts tourists for fishing along the Delaware River and biking and canal rides on the Lehigh River.
The region is host to headquarters of Crayola crayons, Just Born candies, and Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL). Bethlehem Steel and Mack Trucks were also headquartered in the region. The former closed in 2003. The latter recently moved its headquarters to Greensboro, North Carolina, but maintains a presence in Allentown.
Despite the loss of major employers, the region experienced both population and employment growth between 1998 and 2007. In Bethlehem Township, population increased by 13% from 21,171 to 23,984, compared to a 12% increase for Northampton County and a 3% increase statewide. Employment in Bethlehem Township increased by 66.6% (from 3,347 to 5,575) between 1998 and 2007. At the same time, the county grew by 22% and the state by 10%. The US 33 extension and Hartzell Bridge projects were important catalysts for the economic growth in the Township (see section 4, below.)
Between 1999 and 2002, PennDot constructed a three and one half mile extension of SR 33 from US 22 south to I-78. SR 33 connects to I-80 25 miles north of the US 22 interchange. I-78 provides access to Harrisburg, PA approximately 90 miles to the west and New York City 70 miles to the east. The Gene Hartzell Memorial Bridge, which was named after a local community leader who promoted the roadway extension, is the portion of the project that traverses the Lehigh River. The highway extension and bridge were built to both improve traffic flow around the cities of Bethlehem, Easton and Allentown, and to attract economic development and tourism to the region by improving access to major markets.
Construction on the SR 33 extension began in March 1999. The first portion built was the segment to the north of the Lehigh River. Construction of the bridge commenced in 2000 and was completed in 2002. In response to environmental issues, the bridge was designed to include redundant trusses to ensure the bridge would remain standing should one truss fail. The bridge is one of the first of this design in the US, and the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. It won an Excellence in Highway Design award from the Federal Highway Administration. The total cost of the connection was $150 million, of which the bridge represented $42 million ($2000). It opened to traffic on January 20, 2002.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Access to I-78 between Easton and Allentown was confined to rural roads prior to construction of the project. The Hartzell Bridge provided improved access to the interstate, thereby vastly improving the region's proximity to major markets such as New York City and Philadelphia. US 22 suffered from congestion problems that were alleviated by the SR 33 extension and bridge construction. In 2008, AADT on the new portion of the highway was 59,000.
At the intersection of SR 33 and US 22 a new ?Park and Ride? facility opened to serve travelers commuting to central and northern New Jersey and New York. The lot currently has 220 spaces but will soon expand to 1,200 spaces. The region is also looking at passenger rail options to connect to New York City and northern New Jersey. Currently, there are 60 to 70 buses per day that travel this route, and the speed and frequency of these trips have increased since the bridge opened. The bridge also has bike paths that serve local residents and tourists.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The new segment of SR 33 improved access and opened up opportunities for economic growth in the region. Most of the land along the new segment is developable. There has been significant residential development, mostly occupied by commuters going to northern New Jersey.
The bridge has also helped attract significant business development to the Township. There is a major new shopping center located along the segment of SR 33 just north of the bridge. This plaza contains a Dick's Sporting Goods, Staples, Lowes, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and other stores. Saint Luke's medical center, which is located along the new segment, is building a new hospital that will house 800 jobs. The Lehigh Valley Industrial Park is located along SR 33 with several thousand jobs.
The bridge has opened access to major markets and ports. The area has been successful in attracting large companies that require access to international gateways such as the Port of New York/New Jersey and JFK International Airport. There are several automotive industry operations at the park including a BMW parts warehouse and a training center for Porsche car dealers as well as distribution of Porsche products. These two companies account for 300 jobs at the park.
There is also a new industrial park under development just north of US 22 that is expected to have 15,000 jobs in the next 10 to 12 years. The total employment impact of the bridge to date is approximately 3,000.
Starting in the late 1980's, people (including many residents from New Jersey) began migrating to the Lehigh Valley Region because of the relatively low taxes and housing costs, and the opening of I-78 in 1987, which offered a fast connection to New York City. With the opening of the interstate, businesses also started to relocate from New York and New Jersey. The disparity in costs between the Lehigh Valley and other regions has narrowed, as development pressures have increased. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offers several programs in job training, infrastructure loans and tax credits that helped spur development.
Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway Gateway Project ? Case Studies of Bridge Form and Aesthetics, December 2005
ESRI Business Analyst Online http://bao.esri.com/ http://bao.esri.com/
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, Lehigh Valley Profile and Trends, June 2009
Bethlehem Township Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Case study prepared by Economic Development Research Group