We expect our government legislative leaders to provide the best possible solutions to problems that private industry can not nor desire not to provide. Roads and bridges are two of these types of problems in Carbon County.
I and my fellow Carbon County citizens, as well as those travelling through our county, traverse daily the same bad roads and bridges in Carbon County in order to get to our destinations. I have been a passenger or driver on these roads for over 60 years and have heard the complaints of inadequate roads of not only my generation but that of my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I have lived in Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe all of my life and the major road complaint that I hear over and over is about the traffic bottlenecks in both Jim Thorpe and Lehighton. For over 40 years I have been suggesting and advocating a solution to these problems. However, in their collective minds, this did not and does not appear to be the number one problem to be corrected by our legislative bodies, namely the borough councils, township managers, and county commissioners.
With regard to the Packerton Yard development project, the present county commissioners, along with borough and township elected officials, have the cart before the horse. This project could be the most developed parcel in Carbon County, but without safe and bottlenecked free roads serving it, it is doomed to fail from the beginning. Foremost, the Packerton Yard project should be the major key and catalyst to the solution of the traffic bottlenecks along PA Route 209 in Lehighton, Mahoning Township and all project funds on hand should be allocated first toward this goal.
The proposed entrances and railroad crossings from route 209 in Jamestown will not help the Lehighton McCall bridge bottleneck. Instead, a new two lane highway using the Lehigh Valley Railroad bed, starting in the Packerton "dip" area and proceeding south to connect with PA Route 248 in Bowmanstown, with a connection to PA Route 443 just west of the Beacon/443 diner, is a good first project to help solve the traffic bottlenecks.
Secondly, we should not repair the present Tom McCall Bridge; instead immediately construct a new, lower in height and less costly bridge to replace it. Traffic travelling West on PA Route 248 and approaching the intersection of PA Route 248 and PA Route 209 would proceed straight ahead on to the new bridge which would turn slightly to the right over the Lehigh Canal and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in Weissport, passing above and through the former old Post Office and the Straub/Sebelin property and then turning slightly left to cross the river much lower and connect with the new road constructed on the Lehigh Valley Railroad bed. After completion of the new bridge, remove the Tom McCall Bridge and let safety come back to the homes in the Weissport area that are now situated dangerously below it.
I sought the office of Carbon County Commissioner in the spring 2011 Primary, and this was one of my reasons for seeking the County Commissioner Office. Hopefully the next elected commissioners, council members, and township managers/supervisors will get together to solve this problem in the manner that I described or a better one if discovered by a county traffic committee, which should be convened immediately.
I will discuss the historic Mauch Chunk and Jim Thorpe borough bridge and traffic problems with solutions in another letter. For now, with the county commissioners leading the way, the above discussed opportunities must be taken advantage of and be quickly planned and accomplished.
With deepest respect and concern, I am,
School Director, Board of Education
Jim Thorpe School District