Prior to construction of the Route 33 Extension, a direct north-south route between Interstate 78 and US 22 in the Lehigh Valley did not exist. Access between the two limited access highways was via two-lane collector and minor arterial roadways. As development along the corridors increased, accidents and congestion increased and travel time between the two roadways soared. After preliminary studies were completed, the preferred alignment bisected more than six hundred acres of active farmland. The roadway had to accommodate continued farming operations by leaving large parcels accessible to equipment without the need to cross the new limited access highways.
Benesch designed Hopeville Road Bridge as part of the SR 33 extension project for PennDOT. Benesch’s design included horizontal and vertical alignments and a typical roadway section that minimized the impact on the farmland without compromising safety. The resulting typical section was a four-lane roadway section separated by a 48-foot median. Alignment at the southern end of the project was depressed to reduce noise, while the northern end of the roadway was elevated to facilitate access. Interchanges were included in the project design at Freemansburg Avenue and William Penn Highway.
Existing conditions included a deep ravine containing a state roadway, a recreational trail/bike path and a tributary to the Lehigh River. The tributary was traversed with a 240-foot single span bridge to minimize impacts during and after construction. A 20-foot wide by 15-foot high box culvert was constructed behind the southern abutment to maintain farming operations on both sides of the new highway.
The completion of the highway reduced traffic on the two-lane roadways, reduced travel time, and improved the safety of the overall transportation network while at the same time serving as a stimulus for continued economic development. The 3.2 mile Route 33 Extension Project is a vital transportation link between Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, and New York City.