Traffic in Bath

Master Long-Range Transportation Improvement Plan

In their ongoing effort to tackle the traffic congestion within the Borough, Council along with the Borough’s engineer firm, Keystone Consulting has completed a Long Range Transportation Improvement Plan for the Borough. The information contained in this plan, as well as information from LVPC’s study will be used as the framework for Bath to implement upgrades in phases to ease congestion and allow for better traffic flow throughout the Borough. To view the analysis done by KCE, please click the below link for the full PDF.

Bath Multimodal Safety + Parking Analysis

Report by Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and Lehigh Valley Transportation Study

LVPC had recently conducted an in-depth study within the Borough of Bath in which they evaluated parking, traffic, and pedestrian safety. The study also evaluated safety for bikers and gave suggestions for increasing safety for walkers and bikers while incorporating future plans for the Nor-Bath trail to connect to the Borough. The study gives ideas for the Borough to prepare for future growth and connectivity. LVPC had presented an overview of the report at the Town Hall Meeting which was held on May 5, 2018. To review the draft project report, please click the button below.

Does the Borough of Bath have a Traffic Problem?

Borough Traffic Comparisons

For such a small town, the Borough of Bath seems to have a large traffic problem.  Is this a perceived problem, or does one actually exist?  Anyone who has driven through our small community knows what traffic can be like.  Simply put, its terrible!  Waiting for traffic lights to cycle through on archaic timing systems, the shear volume of vehicular traffic on the roads, pedestrians darting across the road, and combining five state roads toward a single point in town results in a traffic nightmare!  And this is on a clear day!  Add some weather factors and you can forget about it!

Let’s not forget about the truck traffic!  Bath is inundated with trucks on a daily basis.  Truck traffic is only going to increase as more manufacturing and transportation developments continue to crop up in the Lehigh Valley.  These developments are heading into our neck of the woods and traffic will only become more of an issue.  These are the growing pains associated with economic evolution.

So how does Bath stack up in traffic statistics?  Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has developed a useful web-based tool to help monitor traffic throughout the state.  PennDOT gives the public access to these tools so one can study for themselves.  Traffic volumes are calculated through periodic time cycles (every so many years).  This information is stored for transportation planners use in engineering studies.  The information is also available to the general public for a wide range of applications.  The web-based tool is called the Internet Traffic Monitoring System or (iTMS) for short.

iTMS uses a network of devices that counts vehicles on various segments of roadways throughout the state.  These vehicle counts are compiled all the way down to the local level.  The vehicle count is called the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT).  This is a measurement of traffic volume for a given road on a yearly basis divided by 365 days.  From this information, if the road segment can be measured (in miles) where AADT’s are located, the average daily Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) can be calculated.  This can help transportation planners and local officials determine what roads may need to be reconstructed.  This information also tells researchers which roads have heavy volumes of traffic.  VMTs are used because you cannot sum AADTs, these are merely daily vehicle rates traversing a single point, whereas VMTs are quantifiable aspect of AADTs.

Northampton and Lehigh Counties make up the greater Lehigh Valley.  Northampton County has 19 boroughs while Lehigh County only has 8.  Using AADT data multiplied by measuring each segment of road where vehicle counters were located, the VMT for all 27 borough’s has been calculated.  Daily vehicle miles traveled within the 27 borough’s is estimated at 764,175, which makes up roughly 5.6 percent of the Lehigh Valley’s 13,693,885 daily vehicle miles traveled.  Of the 764,175 VMT, Northampton County shares 487,358 VMT, while Lehigh County has 276,817 VMT.

The Borough of Bath ranks 10th among all 27 borough’s in the Lehigh Valley when it comes to VMT.  Vehicle miles traveled through Bath are a staggering 33,833 per day.  How does the truck traffic compare?  Bath ranks 7th of 27 borough’s with 2,328 Daily Truck Miles Traveled (DTMT) through town.

Bath has a population of between 2,693 to 2,699.  When compared to with other borough’s of similar size according to population (Wind Gap, Coopersburg, Walnutport, North Catasauqua, and Alburtus) are nearby cousins.  Bath ranks 3rd overall in DVMT and DTMT among its family of borough’s. 

This is fairly significant, considering the only two borough’s with more traffic is Wind Gap, ranked #1 (with Pennsylvania Route 33) and Coopersburg, ranked #2 (with Pennsylvania Route 309).  Aside for two major highways occupying those municipalities, the traffic counts are much higher and rightfully so within the boundaries of the highways itself.  The traffic counts along these same two borough surface streets are less, if not for those heavily traveled highways, which left uncounted, would have Bath taking the top spot among Lehigh Valley borough’s of the same size.  The Borough of Bath has no highways.  However, traffic is bumper-to-bumper through Bath’s local streets.

When Bath is compared to the 18 borough’s of Northampton County, its 7th overall in DVMT.  Wilson, Stockertown, Wind Gap, Nazareth, Northampton, and Hellertown have worse traffic volumes, ranked respectively.  The Borough of Wilson however, has Pennsylvania Route 22 within its jurisdictional boundaries, one of the heaviest traveled routes in the Lehigh Valley.  When it comes to truck traffic, Bath ranks 5th overall with Northampton County borough’s.  Bath is also tied for 4th among Northampton borough’s having 5 state route systems cutting through its territory.  Wilson and Nazareth have 9 each, Northampton and Bangor with 7 each, Hellertown with 6, Wind Gap, Freemansburg, and Pen Argyl share 4th place with Bath.

Once again, if Bath is stacked up against borough’s of similar size according to population within Northampton County, it ranks 2nd only to Wind Gap in DVMT and DTMT.  Remember, Wind Gap has Pennsylvania Route 33.  If that route is discounted from the DVMT and DTMT totals, Bath would claim the top spot among Northampton County borough’s of its same size according to population.

Traffic in Bath is comparatively worse than other borough’s throughout the Lehigh Valley.  Most of the borough’s with higher traffic counts and vehicle miles traveled are those containing limited access and major highway systems.  

Experience has taught many motorists in the area, if you can avoid driving through Bath, do it!  Traffic in and throughout Bath’s complex system of state routes is tricky.  Bath also shares a unique traffic pattern.  All five state roads (3020, 987, 248, 329, and 512) converge near its center.  These five routes however, approach each other in an a-typical geometric pattern that can be confusing to many drivers.  This street layout is quite dangerous, especially when factoring in pedestrian traffic.

Is there an end in sight to Bath’s traffic woes?  There just might be.  Borough Council has authorized an application to the PennDOT Multimodal Transportation Fund for a grant.  This grant would enable Bath to embark on a nearly $400,000 project replacing existing traffic lights with Adaptive Signaling technology.  The new traffic lights, at all four borough intersections, are expected to be installed in late 2016.  These new traffic signals would use artificial intelligence to control traffic by volume at a real-time pace.  The traffic signals would also be equipped with pedestrian approach signals and emergency preemption.

This project is expected to greatly reduce traffic problems that exist in Bath.  Traffic signaling projects such as this are highly cost efficient.  For each $1 spent, in adaptive signaling technology, the community realizes approximately $90 in benefits; less time in traffic, less fuel consumption, less vehicle crashes.  Traffic light projects also cost far less than road-widening projects that become obsolete with the increase in traffic volume over time.  

As traffic volume increases with time, there is little Council can do to limit the number of cars on the road.  What can be done is controlling the flow and speed to which vehicles are able to pass through town, lessening traffic congestion throughout a given day.  Adaptive signaling allows us to accomplish this higher level of efficiency.

Rest assured, Borough Council is well aware of the traffic issues facing Bath.  Plans are in place to reduce traffic impacts in Bath.  Waiting in traffic for lights to cycle and traffic delays caused at peak travel times are soon to become a rear-view memory for motorists! 

Traffic Volume Charts

When reading these charts, the Road Miles are measured segments where Annual Average Daily Traffic counts occur.  The daily Vehicle Miles Traveled is the product of multiplying the vehicle counts by road segment length.  The length of the road segments measured are within the boundaries of the municipality.  This was done to capture a more accurate picture of traffic volumes within the borough limits.  The road measurements and Annual Average Daily Traffic counts are located along state roadways.  These figures are not based on any other municipal/local roads within the borough’s.

This information is based on data kept by PennDOT’s iTMS.  The information contained within iTMS is reliable but not absolutely gauranteed.

(Last Updated 3/12/2020)

Borough of Bath

121 South Walnut Street
Bath, PA 18014

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