Lehigh River Pedestrian/Biking Bridge: Vision Statement

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Lehigh River Pedestrian/Biking Bridge: Vision Statement
We envision a bridge that allows safe passage for all community members, including walkers, bikers and runners, and unites North and South Bethlehem’s neighborhoods and businesses, allowing them to flourish as one. We believe that an architecturally beautiful bridge that promotes recreational enjoyment of the river is essential for Bethlehem to become a true walking city.
Economic Impact: Far more than simply a span across the Lehigh River, the bridge will provide the essential connection to a two- mile inner city corridor extending from Historic Bethlehem to the Greenway. This corridor will form the basis of the “walking city” of Bethlehem, creating a whole new marketplace and opportunity for economic and social vitality by:

  • Linking the South Side and North Side downtowns to support expanded commercial activity

  • Connecting North side cultural organizations with Arts Quest and the Greenway

  • Inspiring new sources of business and economic opportunities along the bridge corridor

  • Offering a new and exciting stage for cultural and commercial events and activities (see Community Enhancement)

  • Encouraging tourism on both sides of the Lehigh River

  • Supporting Bethlehem’s growing reputation as a destination for senior citizens.

Health and Safety: The bridge and its associated corridor, will offer the city a full alternative landscape that can be cultivated and developed with sensitivity to the natural environment. Bethlehem has a rare opportunity as a small American city to create a space divided from the fumes, noise and dangers of a vehicular city. The bridge will increase livability, physical exercise and quality of civic life by:

Community Enhancement: Citizens of the City of Bethlehem, regardless of age, ethnicity or physical health, will be attracted to the river and utilize the pedestrian bridge. The bridge will change the way we see ourselves and our city, allowing people whose everyday lives are effectively isolated to see and greet one another. The bridge will connect citizens in the city by:

  • Providing a public space for people of all ages, cultural and ethnic populations to meet, featuring benches and social spaces

  • Introducing a working model for the future non-vehicular community and “growing” the walking population

  • Alleviating traffic by replacing drivers with bikers and walkers Safely connecting and expanding Bethlehem festivals to both sides of the river

  • Providing a safe location for events, such as a racing course for Saturday runners and marathons that now require the closure of streets and traffic detours

  • Creating a new locus for performing spaces on the bridge and at both ends of the bridge

Nature and Environment: The bridge will offer a crucial link to the state and regional network of walking and biking trails as it renews the City’s relationship with the river. Developing a natural corridor through the entire inner city will establish the city as a truly modern destination. The bridge will reinforce Bethlehem as a city founded on quality of life and sustainability by:

  • Establishing a crucial link between our rail-trails and nature trails within the city and the region

  • Fostering a closer relationship with the Lehigh River and its natural environs

  • Developing the recreational use of the river for boating, fishing and naturalist activities

History and Culture: A continuous walking and biking path between The Fox Nature Center and Saucon Park will represent a remarkable historic and cultural profile of the City. This “trail of history” created by the bridge would connect many of the city’s historic and cultural sites along the corridor and would expand the City’s cultural legacy by:

  • Making many of Bethlehem’s cultural and historical sites safely accessible by foot or bike

  • Making a new and attractive connection between the higher education communities of Lehigh University and Moravian College

  • Stimulating Bethlehem’s future development as a contemporary city by combining its cultural assets with safe pedestrian mobility,

  • Addressing the need for ethnic and cultural unity in Bethlehem by celebrating the bridge as a cultural common ground

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