422 Local Travel Might Be Free, Even If Tolls Imposed

U.S. Route 422

DVRPC Exeutive Director Barry Seymour spoke Wednesday to Pottstown area planners

POTTSTOWN PA – If U.S. Route 422 ever becomes a toll road – and regional planners agree, currently that’s a big “if” – local commuters, those traveling within just one or two interchanges on the limited-access highway, may not be required to pay a fee for that privilege.

The U.S. Route 422 commuter complaint

One of the most-often cited complaints about the prospect of tolling 422, a proposal being explored by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), is that area residents would have to dole out a couple of quarters or more to drive just a few miles from their homes to reach area shopping centers or other routine locations.

Right now they make that trip over 422 for free. They still might, even if tolls are imposed, DVRPC Executive Director Barry Seymour told the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee last week (June 22, 2011) during its monthly meeting at Pottstown Borough Hall.

Tolling 422 continues to appear to be the best way to create a large, locally controlled fund to significantly improve the transportation corridor between King of Prussia and Reading PA, Seymour explained, despite the fact that both area residents and state legislators criticize the idea. “There was a lot of heat shed on the project” last week, as a result of a lawmakers’ press conference, “but not a lot of light,” he said.

How U.S. Route 422 travelers could avoid a toll

Depending on where gantries are erected to electronically collect tolls (there probably would be three such towers, Seymour said), it would be possible for motorists to enter 422 at an interchange beyond one gantry, exit before the next collection point, and never be charged a fee.

Of course, the exact placement of the collection points themselves, like almost everything else related to the tolling proposal, is likely to also be contentious. West Pottsgrove representatives on the committee made that clear in discussion following Seymour’s presentation.

“If there are other ways to do this,” gathering enough money that does not rely on increasingly scarce state or federal financing to help relieve morning and evening commuter congestion on 422, “it’s still very much a wide open discussion,” Seymour acknowledged. “We’re looking for your suggestions.”

Those who believe, however, that declining gas taxes or PennDOT funding should be enough to accomplish the $750 million work DVRPC expects will be needed to fix 422 for the foreseeable future, are only kidding themselves, he added.

Related (to U.S. Route 422 Corridor planning):