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FedEx facility on target to open next fall

PHOTO/STEVE WILLIAMS, FLIGHT QUEST AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY Construction continues on the FedEx Ground Lehigh Valley hub off Willowbrook Road (at right) in Allen Township. Lehigh Valley International Airport is visible to the south of the site, near the top of the photo.

Construction of FedEx Ground’s major $330 million East Coast hub is moving steadily on the 260-acre property north of Lehigh Valley International Airport, officials said, and that means the facility is on target to open next year in Allen Township

New York City-based The Rockefeller Group, which owns the land where FedEx Ground is rising, also wants to build more logistics centers as part of an industrial park on adjacent parcels of land.

Construction has been underway for almost a year at the FedEx Ground Lehigh Valley hub project on Willowbrook Road, with an opening scheduled for next September, said David Westrick, spokesman for FedEx Ground.

In addition to the main 800,000-square-foot hub building, the site will include a gateway/welcome building, vehicle maintenance garage and a trailer washing building.

To date, about 60 percent of the main building’s construction is complete and installation has begun on the conveyor belts comprising the advanced material handling and package sorting systems, Westrick said.

700 EMPLOYEES

When it opens, the Lehigh Valley hub could employ up to 700 employees, most of whom will be recruited in the months before opening, he said.

“The new hub is part of a nationwide network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and further enhance the speed and service capabilities of the FedEx Ground network,” Westrick said. “Daily package volumes have more than doubled in the past 10 years, and most recently the growth has been impacted by a surge in e-commerce.”

ROOM TO EXPAND

Since 2005, FedEx Ground has opened 15 new hubs featuring advanced material-handling systems and expanded or relocated more than 500 local facilities, Westrick said.

The network enhancements have resulted in accelerating ground service delivery by one day or more in more than two-thirds of the United States, he said.

The FedEx Ground project also has room to grow. At full build-out, the facility could employ more than 3,000 and expand to 1.1 million square feet.

TRAFFIC OBJECTIONS

During road improvement construction, Allen Township drew complaints from motorists.

“The biggest complaint since it started was the traffic on Willowbrook Road,” said Larry Oberly, chairman of Allen Township supervisors.

“They completed the two lanes that will ultimately be the southbound lanes. Since that has been completed, those complaints have died off.”

NIGHT WORK POSSIBLE

Now, crews are working on the northbound lanes of Willowbrook Road and just beginning to do the infrastructure work in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Oberly said.

They have been working in two shifts trying to get the parking lot area done, but the wet weather of July and August has delayed them, he said.

It’s possible that crews will be working double shifts for a while at night but they won’t be doing any rock blasting, he added.

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