Allentown Pedestrians

Hamilton Boulevard safety plan proposal makes stretch near Dorney Park safer for Allentown pedestrians

Lehigh Valley’s Newspaper, The Morning Call reported back in January on safety concerns regarding Allentown pedestrians who attempt to cross over Hamilton Boulevard from Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.

Writer Margie Peterson stated that Allentown Pedestrians look more like contestants in “The Hunger Games,” dodging danger left and right, just trying to stay alive.

No sidewalks, crosswalks or safety measures have been put in place to help Allentown pedestrians cross the four lanes of busy boulevard.  This is a dangerous area that many Dorney Park employees must use if they wish to take public transportation home.

Owen P. O’Neil is the director of planning for the Lehigh and Northamptom Transportation Authority.  She has developed a new LANTA report to help identify areas in need of safety improvement, and pedestrian safety measures that can be put in place.  She said that this dangerous roadway for Allentown pedestrians does not need to be this way.

“It’s kind of harrowing trying to get across the street there,” O’Neil said. “There’s no pedestrian infrastructure to handle that demand.”

Discussions about making that stretch of Hamilton safer for pedestrians have been held on and off for years, sometimes stemming from accidents or near misses.

It was almost twenty years ago, but many still remember an Allentown pedestrian tragedy that occurred when a 14-year-old Allentown boy died after being hit by a car while crossing from Dorney Park to Ice Cream World. Not much was done to improve pedestrian safety after the accident.  Then, in 2012, a Dorney Park worker from China was killed walking on Hamilton at the Interstate 78 interchange.

According to O’Neil, “Dorney is just one example,” O’Neil said. “There are conditions like that all over the place.”

Now it looks like we are closer to a plan that will make the stretch of Hamilton Boulevard near Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom safer for Allentown pedestrians.

Town planner and landscape architect Thomas Comitta recently outlined a plan that calls for enhancing Hamilton between Lincoln Avenue and Cedar Crest Boulevard with a combination of pedestrian amenities and streetscape improvements.

The proposal includes a signaled crosswalk between Dorney Park and Ice Cream World, which are on opposite sides of Hamilton.

Lehigh Valley Live reports that the crosswalk would sit slightly above street level and divided by a median wide enough to give people a place to stand if they fail to cross in a single traffic signal phase, Comitta said. The signals would regulate vehicles traveling east or west on the boulevard, as well as those entering or accessing businesses from Hamilton, he said.

Most of the pedestrian traffic is associated with Dorney, but not all of it, Morgan said. People staying at hotels on Hamilton, for instance, cross there to access nearby shops and restaurants, she said.

In addition to the proposed pedestrian friendly crosswalks, pedestrian features on the boulevard also include sidewalks, benches bus stops, trees, streetlights, banners and “gateway monuments,” or sculptures, would enhance the streetscape, he said.

Comitta said the goal is to turn what is now a “stark” road into a “complete street,” a term used to describe streets that are designed to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.  There is no cost estimate at this point, Comitta said, but noted the project would likely be a good candidate for grants and could be completed in phases.

Commissioner David Bond said he likes the safety plan for Allentown pedestrians.


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