2.20.20: Temporary closure of Packer Avenue

Earlier this week, the Bethlehem City Council approved the temporary closure of Packer Avenue from Vine Street to Webster Street, beginning March 9 and continuing through April 30, 2020.

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Earlier this week, the Bethlehem City Council approved the temporary closure of Packer Avenue from Vine Street to Webster Street, beginning March 9 and continuing through April 30, 2020. No vehicles or parking will be permitted during this time. Pedestrian traffic will be allowed and encouraged.

This test closure will allow the university, the City, and our partners in the community to gauge the long-term feasibility of a permanent closure of that portion of the street. At this point, no decisions have been made by either the university or the city regarding a permanent closure. We will conduct independent studies of vehicle traffic and pedestrian usage to assess the impact on neighboring streets and the surrounding neighborhoods. We will also assess the impact on Broughal Middle School.

More than 1,200 pedestrians cross the affected portion of Packer Avenue each day. We are proposing the test closure for three reasons: 1) to enhance the safety for our community and the pedestrians that cross primarily at University Walk; 2) to knit together the Lehigh campus, which this street bisects, and strengthen the connections to the South Bethlehem business district; and 3) to create an attractive pedestrian walkway for both the Lehigh community and the Bethlehem community.  We recognize there are long-standing cultural issues that can make our campus feel inaccessible to the Bethlehem community and we hope this closure might address that by creating an amenity that serves both Lehigh and SouthSide Bethlehem.

We are committed to working together with our campus community, the City, the Bethlehem Area School District, and other community partners to ensure that any and all concerns about the closure are heard and addressed. During the trial period, Packer Avenue will remain open for emergency access, and studies will be conducted to assess the impact of the closure on traffic flow, parking, and safety. The results of the studies will be made available to the public.

More details will be forthcoming on the closure in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Fred McGrail
Vice President
Communications and Public Affairs

Adrienne McNeil
Assistant Vice President
Community and Regional Affairs

Brent Stringfellow AIA
Associate Vice President of Facilities & University Architect