Information for the Temporary Closure of Packer Avenue

Updated 3.16.20: Work is underway to reopen Packer Avenue by March 23. As a result of the impact of COVID-19 and Lehigh moving to remote instruction, the temporary closure of Packer Avenue has been suspended until a later date, when students return to campus and a true test is feasible.

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.

For questions, contact:

Rationale behind the test closure:

  • More than 1,200 pedestrians cross the affected portion of Packer Avenue each day. Closing this portion of the street will enhance the safety for our community and the pedestrians that cross primarily at University Walk.
  • There is an opportunity to knit together the Lehigh campus, which this street bisects, and strengthen the connections to the South Bethlehem business district.
  • There is also an opportunity 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.
Crosswalk running across Packer Avenue

Next steps:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Detour and Transportation Information:

  • Detour - Normal Vehicular traffic will be detoured to Morton Street from Vine Street and Webster Street.
  • Transit System - To prepare for the closure, we would like to remind our users of the Lehigh University Transit System.
  • There are two bus stops that service Packer Avenue: Whitaker Bus Stop and STEPS Bus Stop
  • Parking Meters - Parking meters are available in the first floor of the Alumni Memorial Parking Garage and pay-by-space zones in the first floor of the Zoellner Arts Center Parking Garage. Download Passport for use at Lehigh University parking meters, pay by coin, or at the kiosk in Zoellner Arts Center for $1 per hour parking.
Map depicting the closure of Packer Avenue

Important Dates

Temporary closure of Packer Avenue
March 9-April 30, 2020

Messages to Campus