Red Tape Stalls Repairs At Boulevard Exit Of 422

SANATOGA PA – The effort to rebuild entrance and exit ramps for U.S. Route 422 at the Armand Hammer Boulevard interchange in Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township will – much like traveling 422 itself during rush hours – take longer than expected, the Board of Commissioners learned last week.

The former Occidental property is now being marketed as the TriCounty Business Park

At fault? “The red tape that sometimes gets involved in dealing with a big corporation,” Chad Camburn of Bursich Associates, the township’s engineering firm, reported to board members during their Oct. 3 (2011) meeting.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has spent most of this year buying properties it needs to begin what is called “Section M1A of the Pottstown Bypass Improvement Project.” The additional land will be used to rebuild 422 bridges spanning the Schuylkill River between Lower Pottsgrove and North Coventry townships, and ramps around the nearby interchanges at Armand Hammer and Route 724.

Lower Pottsgrove and the borough of Pottstown also have quietly discussed the potential of changes to the Armand Hammer street scape, intended to coincide with PennDOT’s renovations, that would make the boulevard a more inviting gateway to the east side of Pottstown.

Bidding materials seeking contractors for the project were scheduled to have been released by December. That won’t happen now, Camburn said, due to lingering “right of way issues” between PennDOT and Occidental Chemical Corp., which through subsidiaries owns a substantial portion of property on the north side of the interchange.

It’s not as if OxyChem, as the company is often called, is trying to block the project; it’s not, Camburn assured board members. But there is more paperwork involved, and more corporate reviews and assessments to be conducted before all parties involved sign the necessary agreements of sale. For that reason, PennDOT has postponed the bidding until early next year, he said.

Commissioners thanked Camburn for, but had no comment on, the news.

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