Traffic and parking plans are in place to deal with the thousands of vehicles expected to come to downtown Allentown with the September 12 opening of the PPL Center at Seventh & Hamilton streets.
Mayor Ed Pawlowski, interim Public Works Director Craig Messinger, Traffic Control Superintendent Nelson Varughese, Allentown Parking Authority Executive Director Tamara Dolan and transportation engineering consultant John Wichner of McMahon Associates detailed the plans during an afternoon news conference today in City Council Chambers. The new conference included a presentation of the Authority’s new interactive map showing available parking spaces in real time.
“We knew from our previous studies that the existing roadway infrastructure would adequately accommodate additional vehicles for the arena and that available parking would also be sufficient,” Pawlowski said. “Over the past few months significant improvements have been made to guide patrons to the appropriate parking garages upon arrival in the city and to manage departure patterns to the major roadways after events.”
The city retained McMahon Transportation Engineers & Planners to prepare an Event Management Plan. It includes a Mobility Plan to provide for smooth traffic flow for arrivals and departures to the city, accommodating multi-modal transportation by promoting pedestrian traffic, and providing an opportunity for extended visits by patrons before and after each event at the PPL Center, as well as other neighborhood development.
Coordination between stakeholders of the project, including the city, the Allentown Parking Authority, Allentown Police Department, PennDOT, private developers, LANTA, and local businesses was part of the effort.
The city is upgrading 36 existing signalized intersections with the latest technology to manage and monitor vehicular and pedestrian demands and provide timing patterns to efficiently move vehicular and pedestrian traffic through the downtown area. This Traffic Responsive Signal System allows for real-time data collection and adjustment of signal timings from a remote location to respond to changing traffic demands. The newly constructed Traffic Management Center (TMC) at Bridgeworks will allow the city to monitor and control the operation of these 36 traffic signal locations.
Although the Traffic Responsive Signal System is a sustainable solution for most times of the day, the brief times prior to, and after, an event will also require personnel to direct vehicles and pedestrians. Police officers will be present on foot and on bikes patrolling the areas from the furthest identified parking areas to the arena.
The Allentown Parking Authority (APA), through studies commissioned over the last few years, has confirmed that available parking spaces exist within parking garages and surface lots to accommodate the anticipated parking demand for the PPL Center during events and games, as well as much of the private office space and mixed-use development currently under construction. To take advantage of this adequate capacity, including more than 2,500 spaces within parking garages alone, the APA is implementing additional signage to direct vehicles to the appropriate parking garages surrounding the PPL Center.
Keeping these vehicles on the outskirts of the “inner ring” allow for patrons to park, and then provide a pedestrian experience to the PPL Center with limited conflicts with vehicles. The APA will also be implementing new electronic fare collection upon entering each of the parking garages for more efficient transactions, and is providing bus shuttle service between its parking locations and the arena, with specific service to the Government Deck, which will contain a reduced parking rate for visitors.
Dolan also unveiled the Authority’s new interactive map. Visitors to the downtown can find real-time parking availability in Authority-managed facilities at www.allentowneventparking.com
. Users do not need to download an app, simply click on the interactive map to see real time availability of parking spots on event nights.
“The Board and staff of the Allentown Parking Authority have been working for two years to ensure that ample parking opportunities exist for all users of downtown attractions,” Dolan said. “The plan that has been developed is robust, yet is flexible enough to allow modifications once we have actual experience to measure.”