|South end||Hamilton Street in Allentown|
|North Front Street (end of Center City Allentown segment)
North Dauphin Street (beginning of northeast segment)
|East end||Nelson and Columbia Streets in Allentown|
The American Parkway is a road in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The road currently exists in two segments. The Center City Allentown Segment runs from Hamilton Street north to Front Street. The northeastern segment runs from North Dauphin Street east to the intersection of Nelson and Columbia Streets. The parkway was proposed in order to connect Center City Allentown to the Lehigh Valley Thruway. The current segments of the parkway were built by 1988. Plans exist to complete the road by building a bridge over the Lehigh River, with completion expected in 2014.
Center City Allentown Segment
The center city segment of American Parkway extends from Hamilton Street in the south to North Front Street near the Lehigh River, skirting the eastern edge of Allentown’s Center City area and the valley of the Jordan Creek. Major crossings after Hamilton Street (and the Allentown Bus Terminal) are Linden Street (one-way westbound) and Gordon Street. The roadway follows the Jordan Creek in a northeasterly direction, passing immediately east of the R.J. Corman Railroad's’s Allentown Line. As of late 2012, the roadway terminates at Front Street.
The northeast segment of American Parkway was built on former Lehigh and New England Railroad (L&NE) right-of-way. It begins at North Dauphin Street (State Route 1007) above the east bank of the Lehigh River. It continues to the northeast past a partial intersection with Business Park Lane and a full intersection with LSI Way and Ironpigs Way. Subsequent intersections are at Irving Street (State Route 1005) and Airport Road. American Parkway continues along the L&NE right-of-way approximately one-quarter mile to its intersection with Nelson and Columbia Streets. (Google Maps, L&NE reference)
The concept for an alternate spur route to connect Allentown to then-Interstate 78/Lehigh Valley Thruway (now U.S. Route 22) came about after plans for a Route 145 alignment linking the center of the city and the Thruway were abandoned. An article in the Allentown Morning Call in late 1978 described a proposal to build an expressway beginning at Basin Street south of downtown, passing north and east through the center city area, crossing the Lehigh River, and continuing to Airport Road (adjacent to an existing interchange with the Thruway). By 1988, the completed center city section of the “American Parkway” connected North Front Street with Hamilton Street. The northeastern section of the parkway was built at approximately the same time, but funding was not available to complete the city’s dream for a fast link between the Thruway and downtown Allentown.
American Parkway Bridge
When completed in 2014, the American Parkway bridge will be approximately one mile in length and the city’s third crossing of the Lehigh River. The Tilghman Street bridge (1,660 feet in length) and Hamilton Street bridge (315 feet in length) to the south are the only other links between the eastern and western parts of the city. The Tilghman Street bridge was constructed in 1929, and the current Hamilton Street bridge was opened to traffic on June 19, 1973.
Funding and property to construct the bridge and its approaches was secured by the end of 2012, and a contract was let with New Enterprise Stone and Lime of New Enterprise, Bedford County, Pennsylvania to build the span. On December 14, 2012, Allentown's Mayor Ed Powlowski hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the future eastern landing of the bridge with members of City Council, United States House of Representatives member Charlie Dent, and other area elected officials and members of the public.
- Hoffman, Susan (1978 December?). “Bridge funds sought for Allentown spur”. Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania): n.p.
- (1973 June 20). “New Hamilton St. span is opened to traffic”. Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania): n.p.
- Allentown Public Library vertical file, n.d.
- Allentown (Pennsylvania) city press release: http://www.allentownpa.gov/Home/tabid/36/ctl/Detail/mid/1165/xmid/2090/xmfid/8/Default.aspx
- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation "open document" project description: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/penndot/Districts/District5.nsf/4a6d48b02abaf59085256a540067b74f/51657cbb55ba1938852571f4004cd887?OpenDocument
- Pennsylvania State Route 1002: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Route_1002_(Lehigh_County,_Pennsylvania)
- New Enterprise Stone and Lime webpage: http://nesl.com/
- R.J. Corman Railroad Railroad Group: http://www.rjcorman.com/shortlines.html