LEHIGH VALLEY TO RECEIVE ALMOST $400 MILLION IN INTERSTATE FUNDING

Lehigh and Northampton Counties will receive almost $400 million in Interstate Transportation funding for planned Lehigh Valley projects in the 2021 Twelve Year Interstate Program, according to Senate Majority Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and PA Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards.

“I was pleased to work with Secretary Richards to secure this vital transportation funding for our region and ensure that the interstate that runs through the Lehigh Valley is up-to-date, in good condition for drivers and can handle the increased volume of traffic the Lehigh Valley has seen over the past two decades,” Senator Browne said. “There is a definite need for funding these projects on our interstate. I outlined the need with Secretary Richards and I appreciate that she recognized them too and agreed to fund them.”

This summer, PennDOT directed an increased amount of federal and state funding to be allocated to interstate projects across the Commonwealth. As a result, the amount of federal and state funding that will be allocated to local municipal planning organizations across the state has been reduced from previously expected amounts.

This decision was based on several factors facing the Commonwealth.

PennDOT has identified an annual need of $1.2 billion to meet the demands of the more than 1,300 miles of interstate highways across the Commonwealth. Twenty-six percent of statewide traffic is logged on the interstates. To provide greater funding to meet those needs, PennDOT is phasing in these increases to interstate projects over the next eight years until it is spending $1 billion a year on Pennsylvania interstates.

In addition, the lack of an increased investment from the federal government has put more pressure on the state’s finances and ability to fund numerous projects across the state. 

Due to the increased percentage of federal and state funding going to interstate projects, the Lehigh Valley was facing a $233 million decrease in expected funding from the previous 12-year transportation plan released in 2017.

“Understanding that funding from the 2021 Interstate 12-year Program could only be used for interstate projects, I wanted to ensure that we received a substantial amount of that available funding to complete a major construction project and several vital upgrades along stretches of the Lehigh Valley’s only interstate,” Browne said. “While this will not directly replace the lost funding for local state roads and bridges, it will ensure that the Lehigh Valley is receiving its fair share of overall transportation funding.”

When factoring in the $395 million allocated through this interstate plan and the $233 million redirected to the state’s interstate program from local road and bridge funding, the Lehigh Valley will actually fare better as it receives a net increase of $160 million.

“Pennsylvania is home to over 1,300 linear miles of Interstate, which carries 26 percent of all of the state’s traffic,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “The I-78 corridor in Lehigh and Northampton counties is critical to the movement of people and goods throughout Pennsylvania and beyond, and I’m pleased that we can make these important improvements to the transportation network in that region.”

“We see this as a significant win for the Lehigh Valley, especially given the circumstances and the alternatives,” Browne said.

The Lehigh Valley projects included in the 2021 Interstate 12-year Program are:

  • I-78 from the Berks County Line to Route 100 – $336 million
    • Full depth reconstruction of I-78, Route 100 interchange reconstruction, addition of interchange at Adams Road and truck climbing lanes
  • I-78 Cedar Crest Boulevard to Lehigh Street – $7.8 million
    • Concrete patching and bituminous overlay project
  • I-78 from Lehigh Street to Route 309 South – $20.8 million
    • Concrete patching/overlay and drainage improvements
  • I-78 Eastbound from Route 309 South to Route 412 – $10.3 million
    • Concrete patching and bituminous overlay project
  • I-78 from Easton Road to Route 33 – $20.5 million
    • Concrete patching/overlay, drainage improvements and truck climbing lane

CONTACT:             Matt Moyer (610)-821-8468, mmoyer@pasen.gov