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The American Parkway Design-Build Project

The American Parkway Design-Build Project completed a critical connection between Allentown and the regional highway network. 
  • Vehicles cross the Lehigh River Bridge on their way into Allentown – Gannett Fleming

    The 6,000-foot-long highway crosses the Lehigh River and connects Allentown to U.S. Route 22.

  • The Lehigh River Bridge features designs on the piers – Gannett Fleming

    To meet the client’s aesthetic requests, sunburst patterns were incorporated throughout the roadway.

  • The Lehigh River Bridge consists of five pre-stressed concrete girders and four piers – Gannett Fleming

    Erecting the Lehigh River Bridge required the innovative use of a skid beam to lift Span 2 into place.

  • A noisewall separates the highway from a residential neighborhood – Gannett Fleming

    The American Parkway Design-Build Project featured a noise wall and five signalized intersections.

City of Allentown

New Enterprise Stone & Lime, Inc.

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Our Role
Civil, Structural, Engineering.

6,000 feet
Construction Cost
$38 million
New Construction
5 years
  • Completed a project 50 years in the making 
  • Improved traveler safety while decreasing congestion in the city 
  • Design-build delivery reduced project duration by 24 months.

For more than 50 years, officials and residents in Allentown discussed the need for a travel connection from Center City Allentown to what is now U.S. Route 22. The link was to connect the city community to the transportation corridor and increase commerce, reduce congestion, and improve traveler safety. In 1988, the first two segments of the roadway were constructed – one in Center City and the other in the northeastern section. But funding disappeared before the connection crossing the Lehigh River could be completed.

In 2012, the design-build team of Gannett Fleming and New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. (NESL), teamed to complete the highway. The project involved design and construction of a 6,000-foot-long, four-lane facility, with two new bridge structures, five signalized intersections, a 310-foot-long retaining wall, and a 540-foot-long noise wall. The most challenging and innovative aspect of the project was the Lehigh River Bridge, a 705-foot-long, five-span bridge over the river, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and State Route 1007 (Dauphin Street).

What We Did

To overcome constructability issues, the project team developed an unconventional solution to place a skid beam in Span 2 and then use two cranes to place the standard beams onto the skid beam. The beam placement was designed to a distance where a 500-ton crane placed on Span 3, and a crane on the causeway, would be able to set the Span 2 beams into place and complete construction. Additionally, the project team utilized drilled shafts to reduce foundation depths and maintain a dry excavation. The design-build delivery method helped to expedite the project by an estimated 24 months.

Additionally, the client wanted the bridge to feature aesthetically pleasing design elements, such as architectural treatments and landscaping. The design-build team coordinated with the city, PennDOT, and other community leaders to incorporate sunburst inspired Art Deco paintings. These aesthetic treatments were etched onto concrete components and the architectural towers at the four corners of the bridge. As an extra visual touch, the project features a diamond decorative pattern on other bridge elements like the pedestrian railings and abutments.

Key Features

  • Design-build project delivery
  • Final design reduced bridge beams from six to five, saving the client $275,000
  • Drilled shafts allowed for a dry excavation
  • New route allows traffic to avoid overusing busy city streets
  • Art Deco design elements incorporated on concrete components
  • Innovative drainage system prevents runoff from entering the river
  • Safe bridge access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Awards & Recognition

  • No. 4 Bridge Project, 2015, Roads & Bridges, Top 10 Bridges
  • Outstanding New Medium Span Bridge, 2015-2016, Association for Bridge Construction and Design Susquehanna Chapter, Bridge Awards.

Similar Projects: Transportation: Bridges, Project Delivery: Design-Build, Engineering, Geotechnical: Foundations, Geotechnical, Transportation: Highways, Project Delivery, Transportation, Engineering: Transportation