We all hate traffic. We hate sitting in it, we hate being part of it, and most of all, we hate knowing that we’re going to be sitting in it before we’ve left. Even though there are countless trouble areas, a brand new bypass to alleviate one of the more frustrating “hot spots” in the area opened at the end of September.
Being that I-78 more-or-less serves as the sole high speed connection for the southern Lehigh Valley and US-22 serves as its northern counterpart (then eventually feeds into I-78), it sees a huge traffic flow. Being that (PA) Route 100 serves as a western connection/border for the area, the combination of I-78, US-22, and PA 100 is a traffic jam waiting to happen. Mix in US-222 (an alternative, much slower east/west route between 22 and 78), and it’s deadlock. So, combining the limitations of the roads, the fact that sprawl has moved a considerable amount of housing to the western Lehigh Valley (Trexlertown, Weisenberg, Fogelsville, Alburtis, and on and on), and the fact that there are still plenty of businesses spread throughout all corners of the Lehigh Valley, the infrastructure built in the past couldn’t handle the needs of today (+5 political sound bite bonus!).
All of this obsolence became showcased at the intersection of US-222 and PA-100. Traffic lined up “as far as the eye could see” in all four directions at that unfortunate intersection. No dedicated left-turn lanes were the straws which broke the civil engineers’ backs and that was that. [you’ve just finished the ‘how to sound confident in something even when you really have no idea what you’re talking about’ section]
Anyway, the bypass:
Judging solely on its challenge vs. solution factor, it passes with flying colors. Once you’re on the bypass itself, it’s smooth sailing as you’re on your way to Trexlertown and points south (even Philadelphia for the masochists out there). There’s no traffic build-up at the light (heck, there is no light), and it’s all sorts of easy to get from the bypass to 222 if you really need to get there (needing to get on 222 when you’re specifically trying to bypass that very road doesn’t make much sense, but sometimes people can’t read maps very well). The very new road surface still has its “just out of the dump truck” smoothness, so it’s like you’re driving on your very own comfort zone. Being that nothing gold can stay, this will change in time, and eventually old people will be complaining about how it needs resurfacing. But for now, it’s primo driving.
Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. Like most everything else, I don’t ask too much of a road, but is it too much to hope for some pleasant scenery? The bypass seems to always have a noise-blocking wall on one side or the other, and where the wall isn’t is just flat, tree-less scrubland. It would remind me of the dreary moors of Jane Eyre had I not blocked it from my memory after reading it in 9th grade. As time goes on, these desolate plains will most likely become subdivisions, and after people live there for a few years, they’ll complain and petition for sound barrier walls be built on both sides of the road, turning it from a regular road to more of an open-top tunnel. Also, has hype builds up about it and more and more commuters begin to use it, its ease of use will decline (Junior Staff, please note, I’m just throwing that out there; this will not affect the final rating because it would not be fair to review something primarily based on its hype).
Route 100’s New 222 Bypass receives 4 stars due its success in fixing a significant traffic snarl in the Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, its functional success is marred by its aesthetic weakness, no sweeping vistas, no landmarks, heck, the nothern section doesn’t even have any trees. It doesn’t look like The Morning Call’s resident “road warrior” Don Hartzell has yet commented on the bypass, so it looks like we have the scoop. I mean, it’s not like we should expect someone with the unassuming title of “Road Warrior” to be on top of these sorts of things or anyway…