Workshop Next Week Tackles The 422 Tangle

Night traffic congestion photographed Nov. 15 on U.S. Route 422 approaching Sanatoga

Night traffic congestion photographed Nov. 15 on U.S. Route 422 approaching Sanatoga

KING OF PRUSSIA PA – If U.S. Route 422 is a mess, how do you un-mess it?

That’s the question, more or less, to be tackled during what is being billed as “an engaging and interactive” free workshop scheduled for next Tuesday (Dec. 16, 2014) from 6-8 p.m. in Freedom Hall of the Upper Merion Township administration building, 175 W. Valley Forge Rd. The event is open to the public and elected officials, according to the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association.

To be specific, the public workshop – and a similar one for transportation professionals that will be held earlier the same day – focuses on what is being called “transportation demand management (TDM) implementation along the U.S. Route 422 corridor.”

20080913-route422-2TDM strategies look for ways to lower traffic volume by reducing the overall demand for road travel, according to the Federal Highway Administration, or demand at peak times, like the eastbound morning and westbound evening rush hour crawls on 422 between U.S. Route 202 and the Berks County line.

In a report last updated in March (2014), the federal administration suggests strategies might include transit improvements (adding buses and trains, for example), ride-sharing (creating a carpool), designating high-occupancy only vehicle lanes for cars with two, three or more passengers, and reducing vehicle ownership costs with car-sharing and pay-as-you-drive insurance plans.

The strategy first mentioned in the federal report is described as “road pricing.” That translates to “toll roads” and other kinds of fees, it acknowledges. The controversial prospect of creating a toll structure on 422 was officially abandoned three years ago, and there is no indication politicians will risk reviving it any time soon.

Which probably makes the traffic demand workshops prospectively more “engaging,” an association blog post hinted Wednesday (Dec. 10).

“Route 422 and other major highways and arterials in the corridor experience significant levels of congestion and opportunities to expand the highway are limited. TDM has the potential to provide low cost and effective strategies to help reduce peak period congestion and reduce the environmental impacts of travel in the Corridor,” it said.

The association is partnering with the Temple University Center for Sustainable Communities, and CFA Consultants, a Philadelphia-based traffic research firm, to conduct the workshops. During both, experts will present results of a study that looks at the history of traffic congestion in the Corridor, proposed strategies to address it, “barriers to effective implementation,” and “recommendations for making TDM strategies successful in the future.”

The workshops are being held at a time when major, multi-million dollar upgrades and bridge replacements are being made or contemplated on 422 at its connection to 202, and at or near its Trooper Road, Sanatoga, and Stowe interchanges.

Additionally, Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties continue to expand bicycle trail systems that somewhat parallel 422, and have helped bring praise to greater Philadelphia as one of the most bike-friendly areas in the nation. They also come as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority is considering future extension of its commuter rail from Norristown north to King of Prussia, and is set to introduce an electronic fare collection system called “SEPTA Key.”

Top photo from the 422 Sucks Facebook page