That Route 422 Tolling Plan? Officially Dead For Now

PHILADELPHIA PA – Chalk this one up as a win, at least for now, for the area’s commuting public.

Traffic moves west along U.S. Route 422 at its Royersford-Trappe exit.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) threw in the towel this week on its two-year-old proposal to impose tolls on drivers who use U.S. Route 422 from King of Prussia to the Berks County line as a means of paying for improvements there. The toll plan was heavily criticized from the start, as opponents derided it as a special tax from which they would receive questionable benefit.

“Public and political sentiment told us that people would rather see a comprehensive statewide solution than a local toll,” DVRPC Executive Director Barry Seymour conceded Tuesday (Oct. 4, 2011) on the agency’s 422plus.com website.

A state Transportation Funding and Advisory Commission in August “proposed a comprehensive package to increase funding for transportation infrastructure across Pennsylvania. Support and passage of this package will enable critical transportation improvements to proceed, without a toll,” Seymour noted.

Whether the commission’s recommendations will be fully implemented, however, remains to be seen. So, too, does whether it will generate enough money to allow substantial improvements to 422, which twice daily becomes so choked with traffic that it slows to a crawl.

Although he acknowledged the plan could currently go no further, he also added that Philadelphia-based DVRPC’s study of the issue – in partnership with PennDOT, SEPTA, and Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties – indicated “a modest toll managed by a local authority could pay for these improvements, and have them in place far faster than waiting for available funds from Harrisburg or Washington.”

In its pages, Seymour added, the study continues to maintain tolls could be a viable way to proceed if the situation on 422 worsens, or if the advisory commission’s suggestions fail to bring in enough revenue.

Those recommendations include shifting some non-roadway expenses taken from gas tax revenues, which are earmarked to pay for highway improvements, to the state general fund; renewing vehicle registrations every two years, and drivers’ licenses every eight; closing some driver license centers; and allowing uninsured motorists to pay a $500 fine instead of having their registration suspended.

As its closing volley on the subject, the partnership released 12 different downloads on most aspects of the project it studied. Among them were:

Other coverage:

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