If you are planning to drive to Historic Downtown Bethlehem in the next few weeks, prepare yourself for delays and consider some alternative routes around Main Street.
The $3.2 million facelift for Main Street resumes this morning, city officials said. Construction crews will begin demolishing the pavement and roadway to prepare for replacement and the ultimate installation of a 50-by-30-foot inlaid granite star at the intersection with Market Street.
Traffic on Main Street will be cut to one lane between Broad to Church streets. Traffic will be allowed to move in both directions as flagmen control the flow.
Also, through traffic on Market Street will be closed from New Street west to Main Street. Signs will be placed at the corner of New and W. Market St. directing a detour route to Main Street via Church Street. Signs will also tell motorists heading to the Historic Hotel Bethlehem and the Moravian Book Shop to follow the detour route.
So will begin the fourth phase of a five-phase project to improve the streetscape and sidewalks around Main and Market streets. The project was suspended after the third phase near the end of July to allow Musikfest to take place unfettered by construction in the downtown.
The project is expected to be complete by the end of October.
Main Street figures to be dusty and noisy during this initial street demolition part of the project, which is expected to take between three and four days, depending on weather. After demolishing the macadam at the surface, crews will replace 100-year-old water main pipes and lay a new foundation for a resurfaced street.
The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce is planning to place a time capsule under the new star, filling it with mementos from downtown merchants and city residents, according to Lynn Collins Cunningham, the chamber’s vice president for Bethlehem initiatives.
The chamber and the Downtown Bethlehem Association are also planning a promotional campaign called “I dig Main Street,” which will offer prizes to shoppers who continue to patronize Historic District stores and restaurants through the inconvenience. Details on the promotion will be released at a later date.