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Route 33 Interchange Ribbon-Cutting Marks New Region of Growth for Lehigh Valley

By Colin McEvoy on June 25, 2015

Charles Chrin and former Gov. Tom Corbett cut the ribbon at the ceremony for the new Route 33 interchange, as LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham (right) looks on.

Charles Chrin and former Gov. Tom Corbett cut the ribbon at the ceremony for the new Route 33 interchange, as LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham (right) looks on.

About 20 years ago, when Palmer Township officials envisioned future development in the northern end of the township, they included a new Route 33 interchange in their strategic plan. But at the time, due to the high cost and large scope of the project, it seemed unlikely it would ever come to fruition.

Two decades later, regional and state officials gathered to cut the ceremonial ribbon on the new $40 million interchange, which is poised to make the Chrin Commerce Centre the Lehigh Valley’s next region of growth. It is estimated the resulting development will create 5,000 new jobs and generate $16 million in tax revenue annually.

“We’re very proud to have taken the lead on this public-private partnership that will have such a large-scale, positive impact on our neighbors,” said Charles Chrin, 91, president and founder of Charles Chrin Companies and the primary architect of the interchange. “From the hundreds of construction jobs that have been created to the multitude of positions at new and expanding businesses, this tremendous project will have lasting and far-reaching impacts.”

The Charles Chrin Interchange, located between the ramps for Route 248 and 191, is expected to open to traffic in July. Construction began in the fall of 2013. Chrin has plans for development of 800 acres around the interchange for manufacturing, distribution, retail, and office space.

The project touches seven municipalities in Northampton County, including Tatamy, Stockertown, Nazareth, and the townships of Palmer, Lower Nazareth, Upper Nazareth, and Forks. The June 25 ribbon-cutting included former Gov. Tom Corbett and representatives from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the state House and Senate.

“I never cease to be amazed the way people across the Lehigh Valley come together,” said Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. “The Lehigh Valley gives a national example in the way that if you work together, public and private, if you forget about parochial interests, you can do great things for the future of our country.”

Click the image above toe enlarge the rendering of the Charles Chrin Interchange development concept.

Click the image above toe enlarge the rendering of the Charles Chrin Interchange development concept.

Two tenants have already been established in the land around the interchange: Porsche Logistics Services, which has been there since 2009, and Mondelez International, which ships Nabisco snacks and other products from the site to regional centers.

Other buildings are currently under construction, including a 425,000 square-foot industrial building being developed by the DCT Industrial Trust, which is expected to be complete this summer. Duke Realty is currently developing a 1.1 million square-foot industrial building, which is expected to be delivered by the end of the year, and has proposed two other buildings in the area that would exceed a combined 1.5 million square feet.

“This transformational project is all about connecting business, industry, and community,” said David Covler, chairman of the Palmer Township board of supervisors. “This extraordinary venture blends the best of economic development with superb highway engineering design and construction. We’re happy to welcome new businesses and new jobs to Palmer Township and Northampton County.”

This marks the first new interchange to be added since 2002, when two exits were created in Bethlehem Township during the opening of the 3.2-mile connector road between Route 22 and Interchange 78, according to Northampton County Executive John Brown.

The grand-ribbon cutting included speeches from Chrin, Cunningham, Colver, Brown, Sen. Lisa Boscola, and PennDOT District Executive Michael Rebert. After the ribbon was cut, Chrin took a ceremonial ride in a Porsche over the new six-lane bridge spanning over Route 33, which was developed as part of the interchange project.

Below is a video of the ribbon-cutting:

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