Friday, July 29, 2016
Should Lehigh Valley Start DePaving Roads?
Though his detractors forget this, one reason why Don Cunningham was so effective as Bethlehem's Mayor is because he aggressively attacked roads. Unlike most politicians, he understood how important good roads are to a community. He may have recognized that there's also a political dividend. But as the cost of materials increase and other municipal expenses mount, it is becoming very for many Lehigh Valley communities to maintain their roads. I have an idea that might sound ridiculous, but just might work - depaving.
According to LVPC Executive Director Becky Bradley, there are 4,105 miles of roads in the Lehigh Valley. Most - 3,046 miles - are owned by local communities. Do they all really need to be paved?
Depaving roads has gone on for some time in other states. In Texas, a funding shortage in 2013 forced the state to depave 80 miles of roads. But it's apparently going on in at least 27 states, according to Wired. This is because, in addition to limited public dollars, the costs of asphalt, cement and concrete have gone up.
In Bethlehem Township, it will cost about $3.9 million to repair about 9,000 ft along Brodhead Road. That has to be done. But what about low volume roads like Wilson Avenue, which runs parallel to the Lehigh River? It might make sense to depave that road.
I am sure there are numerous low-volume roads, even in Lehigh Valley cities that could be depaved. Roads in City parks, for example, should probably be unpaved.
State funding is available for communities looking at depaving roads.