Nov 12, 2015

Allentown's Phantom Rejuvenation


Yesterday's Morning Call had a story on the PennDot study, which recommended four different options to handle the onslaught of traffic to rejuvenated center city Allentown. It's truly amazing how little $1Billion buys now a days. Believe it or not, despite the endless use of adjectives by the paper, the town is as dead as ever. PennDot, realizing that the study wasn't necessary, is never the less proceeding as if it was. One recommendation was actually for a bike lane on 7th street. When is the last time you saw a bike on 7th Street? Their consultant, from King of Prussia, thinks that patrons are going to ride their bikes down 7th Street to a show at the arena; I couldn't make this stuff up, where would I get such an imagination? Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has been ranked as one of the worst run states in the country, maybe it's because we hire consultants who recommend building bike lanes on 7th Street, to accommodate invisible arena patrons. So far, the best arena night hasn't come close to duplicating the traffic on a Thursday night,  back in the days of Hess Brothers. What we have is a bunch of new buildings, of no architectural significance, and a medium size arena, which gets  half full, 40 nights a year.

23 comments:

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

The only way to rejuvenate a city is to create the environment for people with substantial incomes to choose to live in the city. Building awnings, arenas, and other embellishments will not work.

Anonymous said...

Why do citizens allow PennDOT to rule? Try asking them to install a stop sign or change a traffic light so folks can see it better. Guess the answers.

Anonymous said...

Bike lane on 7th sounds like a new bar. The bike lane a great idea will actually need to be down the middle of 7th as the double and triple parkers need their spaces first.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

The police will tell you bikes are used to transport drugs downtown. Perhaps the planners had this in mind.

On a more serious note, not so long ago, do gooders from the west end and the administration used some free grant money to develop a comprehensive plan for bike lanes in the city. Of course they brought in expensive out of towners to formulate their dreams to paper.
In short they create the perfect world for the nine or ten people who might actually use it but a traffic nightmare would have resulted for those of us who actually live downtown and have the temerity to want to use cars to go shopping or get to work?

Thank heavens, concerns regarding the new arena caused that plan to be put on the shelf.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I read that article, and just said what a waste of time, and money.

Ted Yost

Confused Allentonian said...

I'm fully expecting another article this weekend in The Morning Call, extolling the benefits of renting an apartment downtown. This is fully expected because of all the money spent to create the Albert Speer designed buildings of Allentown 4.0. Demand needs to be generated for them.

This Kabuki theater will continue to play out as long as City Center Development keeps putting up buildings. What is the latest? Five or Six City Center? It's all becoming quite confusing.

One has to take notice that the new buildings aren't being called by the names of the businesses that built them. They're being named after City Center Development that builds them and then solicits businesses to lease space in them. That's a major difference between the Allentown I grew up in, versus what is being built now. Everyone knew where the Colonial Theater was, or Hess Brothers. They knew where it was and what business it was. Now it's all just a blur.

I bet if I mentioned the Brass Rail or Speedys or the Livingston you would know what it is and what they are. Relics of the past, along with the Americus Hotel. That's rarely mentioned in the Morning Call.

alfonso todd said...

I say you have to get the buy in from those who live in the community as well as those who live in and beyond the region....

Alfonso Todd

doug_b said...

The bicycle insanity is being foisted on us by the liberals - in many cities in the US.

The obvious is that very few people over the age of 25 are going to ride a bike to work. Additionally, in a northern climate, there is five months of winter where you have ice and snow - making bicycling nearly impossible. It's not a reliable or dependable form of transportation. More like a form of exercise.

As PJ O'Rourke said: Liberalism is Communism sold by the drink.

Anonymous said...

I travel MLK Blvd every day. I don't think I have ever, and I mean never ever, seen a bicycle in the bike lanes there.

michael molovinsky said...

@9:54, considering the speed of the vehicles on that narrow two lane road, i think that the city is being irresponsible for even allowing biking there, much less encouraging it. we should have "no bikes allowed" symbols.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I agree that bike lanes on 7th St is a ridiculous proposition. I bike a lot for exercise and ride MLK between Schreiber's Bridge and St. Elmo St. I experience very little problems with the vehicles on the road. I wish the city would convert the former railroad line that use to follow the Little Lehigh and Cedar Creek to Union Terrace. The plans exist to do so. I would connect the Lehigh Parkway with Union Terrace and eventually to the Riverfront. The rebuilding of the 15th St. bridge even provided for a base because a stone access was built. This would alleviate bikes on MLK. This would be very similar to the Saucon Trail and the Ironton Rail Trail.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:33, if you're a long time reader of this blog, you know that i'm no fan of rail to trail. i also oppose the inter-park connect plan. i am, however, a fan of maintaining the spur routes. you are referring to wietzel's plan for the barber quarry line. unfortunately, that was recently used to justify paying someone $1.4 million for essentially unneeded land. you should also know that the AEDC also still has a plan to restore the track between S.10th Street and the previous connection at union street, purely on speculation, with no tenant in sight needing rail service. on the other hand, they stood down in silence, while corman and jaindl just tore out the track being used, to accommodate his NIZ designs at the river front. the self serving hypocrisy and irony of allentown is rather unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

I wonder the dollar amount paid for this study? Now a firm will be hired to study the study and more charts to study after they complete the study of the study. I like power point presentations to study and millions spent on studies.

Anonymous said...

How much does it cost to paint triangles on the side of the road? Only in the city with no spending limits. Charts, maps, graphs...pictures of someone in a suit pointing at them makes it all worth it.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I know you are not a fan of rail to trail or the inter-park connect plan. I look at this as a compromise to accommodate bike safety and traffic flow along MLK. It will also provide a place for more to exercise since that is becoming a healthier aspect of our society. Using this as justification for the $1.4 million was absurd. That property is in a flood plain and can not be developed for anything more than a parking lot.

AEDC is trying to market the former Allentown Metal Works due to rail access. Good Luck with that! Any machinery in that building is out of date, as is the building. Heavy steel fabrication, once a staple to this region, is probably log gone and will not return. Thus the rail spur is no longer needed. It hurts to say that because I remember that spur being used as well as the former LV mainline that was recently torn up.

John said...

As soon as I saw the article, I sent a request to the PennDOT employee asking how I could see the plans as I had not been aware of the public meeting for viewing. No response as of yet. I also note that there is no web presence yet for the reconstruction of 22, much less anything anywhere except for Wikipedia on the American Parkway project (set to open by end of calendar year).

This is an amazing and yet expected lack of transparency by PennDOT and the city, I don't know how else to shake the tree but by posting here.

Anonymous said...

Let's find out how much was wasted on the last study. None of those recommendations got off the drawing board. If the money was used as fuel at a power plant some good would have been achieved.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

So, we have one guy who bikes 450ft of MLK.

michael molovinsky said...

@11:42, for the benefit of my readers i must clarify that the former allentown metal works has NO rail tracks to it; those tracks were removed years ago, and would have to be replaced all the way from 10th and martin luther, to at least 2nd and union streets, which would cost untold $millions. this is the plan that scott unger and AEDC is touting. Furthermore, no tenant since taylor engineering in the 1950's, had any need for rail service. I would have preferred if the short line company Corman had keep the tracks, but they scrapped the rails. the other corman line, the last short line in allentown, was just removed. it was the old main of the original LVRR, the oldest track in allentown, and one that was part and parcel of our history. if pawlowski or city council had any knowledge or feeling for allentown what-so-ever, they would insisted that it stay. other communities celebrate their history with tourist trains etc., we tear it out for more unnecessary NIZ plastic buildings. Shame on jaindl for not incorporating those tracks into his plans.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

The auto salvage yard in the 400 block of Lehigh St has gated off the railroad right of way and claimed the property. To the best of my knowledge there is nothing supporting this claim but it would be an interesting debate for Scott Unger and the AEDC to get into.

You are absolutely correct about losing our railroading history. But that started in the late '50s and early '60s. First with the demolition of the old LVRR passenger terminal when they built the new Hamilton St. bridge across the Jordan Creek. Then the removal of all of the rails crossing Hamilton St at what is now the intersection with American Parkway. Followed by the demolition of the freight terminal. Other communities restored these precious gems from their past. The only one remaining in Allentown is the former New Jersey Central passenger station that was Banana Joe's. But then we also lost our transportation history of the trolley system.

I only know one member of Allentown City Council that has this knowledge or feeling for Allentown. None of the others are lifelong Allentown residents nor are many of the occupants of City Hall.

Jamie Kelton said...

There would be no American Parkway on the west side of the Lehigh River if it was not for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Especially the old freight yards.

Also much the old LVRR right of way that used to run along the west side of the Lehigh are all gone.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Traffic would flow smoother if we did something about the Double Parkers who seem to have no problem holding up the rest of us so they are not weighed down by the need to parallel park.......

Julian Kern said...

I attended the Penndot presentation regarding 7th street. The plans were ridiculous. My recommendations were to leave 7th atreet alone and put more focus on the double parkers causing any traffic problems.