Once a State Rep Campaign Debate, Could the Tolling of Rt. 422 be a ‘Model’ for Tolling Highways across the State?

 What’s the saying, ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around” . . . ? 

For most of the year 2010, voters of Tredyffrin Township had a front row seat as the ‘tolling of Rt. 422’ issue became a political football in the PA State House 157 race between incumbent State Rep Paul Drucker (D) and challenger Warren Kampf (R).  Some political insiders might even argue that Drucker’s stance on 422 tolling may have contributed to the loss of his state representative position last November.

Although a heated campaign issue, post-election the tolling of Rt. 422 has had nearly non-existent discussion.  That is until now. According to Pennsylvania Independent, an on-line news service, the 25-mile, four-lane US Route 422 will be promoted on Monday, June 6 as a potential ‘model’ for tolling highways across the state as a means to increase transportation funding. 

Gov. Corbett’s recently appointed 30-member Transportation Funding Commission will hear a presentation on how tolls would work on Rt. 422 in Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.  The executive commission is looking at a way to generate at least $2.5 billion in annual transportation funding for infrastructure needs and the ‘tolling of 422’ may serve as the state’s model for how to do it.

According to Barry Schoch, Secretary of Transportation for Pennsylvania and chairman of the commission, “Route 422 model would allow county or municipal authorities to form a ‘local taxation authority’ and keep the revenue from tolls and local taxes dedicated for local highways”. 

Construction of a local suburban commuter rail line was one of the possible uses of 422 tolls and a means to alleviate some of the highway traffic.  If you recall, the Philadelphia-based Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) created a Route 422 Corridor Master Plan and presented their findings in 2010 to local municipalities, including Tredyffrin Township.  Their plan, among other things, provided for a light rail commuter service and suggested tolling on Rt. 422 as a way of financing the project.

During 2010, the tolling of 422 provided a major talking point for the Drucker and Kampf political campaigns.  Drucker supported DVRPC and the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan, which included tolling of 422.  However, Drucker was specific that the tolling was for the commuter who was traveling the entire stretch of the highway on a regular basis, not the occasional user or those that would use it on-off. 

In response to Drucker, Kampf’s opposing position on the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan was simple.  On his campaign website, Kampf stated “My position on tolling Route 422 is clear: I oppose it.”  Remaining true to his campaign words, when asked to respond to the upcoming Transportation Funding Commission presentation to use tolling of 422 as a model for the state, Kampf said, “Tolling is another way of taxing people. . .”  He is opposed to using state and local funds to build, operate and maintain a commuter rail line that would benefit rail commuters at the expense of others. 

Like much of the country, many of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges are in crisis; desperately in need of repairs. Although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on the infrastructure needs, they may not be as unified in the funding solutions.  No one has a crystal ball, but we now see evidence from Corbett’s Transportation Funding Commission that supports Drucker’s vision for the future . . . a suburban commuter rail line and the use of tolls to finance  infrastructure improvements.

Some could argue that State Rep Kampf battled former State Rep Drucker successfully on the 422 tolling issue, but it looks like Kampf could face a far greater challenge in Harrisburg . . . and,  from both sides.

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13 Comments

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  1. Here goes John Petersen again with his “I’m smarter than everyone else” attitude. Humble pie has never been on his menu.

    As for the idea of tolling Route 422:

    (1) its an extremely regressive method of generating revenue. Working families are already being hit hard with the price of gas approaching $4 a gallon. Now John Petersen wants to further burden those who commute to work from Royersford, Pottstown, etc. with toll charges.

    (2) it will give rise to a tolling feeding frenzy. Once politicians get a taste of $$$ from tolling Route 422, can Route 202 or the Blue Route be far behind?

    Also, I have to laugh at John Petersen’s call for people to “bang down” Warren Kampf’s office doors to demand that he support the imposition of a toll on Route 422. Now there’s an image: “Yes, please, please make us pay more to drive! And after you are done tolling us, we demand that you tax us!”

    [Reply]

    PC Watcher Reply:

    This area lacks regional focus — need some redistricting that has some benefits, not just some election guarantees. And having the sewer fee go up doesn’t mean a thing when replying to tolling being regressive. Both are? Unrelated topics. But a clever way to obfuscate.
    The US of A better start figuring out that revenue is a component of spending. All these “spending cuts” are fine, but as revenue continues to dwindle, what are we going to do?
    In the past 2 weeks, I have gotten 3 solicitations from firms offering to represent me on a contingency basis to reduce my property assessment. in Chester county. They are suggesting as much as a 25% outcome. If people just sit back and say yes to a 25 percent reduction in their taxes, (promise, not guarantee, but it costs me nothing to let them try), even the most recalcitrant have to understand that taxes have to go up to offset it.

    [Reply]

    Mr. Roboto Reply:

    John Petersen: What does opposing tolling Route 422 have to do with an increase of a sewer fee several years back? Is it your position that because Warren Kampf voted for an increase of a sewer fee, he must now support tolling. . .and every other fee increase proposal until the end of time?

    Demanding such an inflexible and foolish consistency from our public officials does will not result in sound public policy.

    Let’s face it John Petersen, our government and our leaders frequently decide issues on an ad hoc basis, and this can result in approaches to seemingly similar issues that appear to be contradictory.

    For example:

    (1) why did President Obama order the bombing of Gaddafi’s forces on the grounds that he is oppressing the freedom seeking Libyan people, but did not advocate similar military action against the equally repressive President Saleh of Yemen or President al-Assad of Syria?

    (2) why has every President since JFK refused to trade with Communist Cuba since, but every President since Nixon has bent over backwards to trade with Communist China?

    The list of inconsistent policies is seemingly endless. They may take you out of your comfort zone because of your black and white approach to life, but our nation has managed to lumber along with them for the last 200 years.

    Bottom line: I would rather have a Route 422 without tolls than a State Rep who is foolishly consistent.

    As for my slippery slope argument: it is true that such an argument can be misused, but not in this instance. To see why, you need only to ask yourself, why toll only Route 422?

    You say that tolling of Route 422 is needed because its “traffic congestion is horrible.” If that is the case, then why not toll even more congested roads? For example, the Blue Route (try heading south towards 95 in the morning and you come to a standstill at Media), Route 202 (ever try driving north from West Chester at 8:00 a.m or the reverse at 5:00 p.m.?) or the Schuylkill at anytime of the day.

    If traffic reduction is the reason for tolling Route 422, then every highway that has rush hour congestion is fair game.

    Once the politicians see revenue rolling into the state coffers from a Route 422 toll, they will start looking to other equally busy highways. It is pretty much a given. Remember: this is Pennsylvania. . .the state that still imposes “The Johnsontown Flood Tax” on its citizens.

    [Reply]

    From the West Reply:

    Actually, Kampf didn’t vote for the sewer fee increase.

    [Reply]

  2. However, Drucker was specific that the tolling was for the commuter who was traveling the entire stretch of the highway on a regular basis, not the occasional user or those that would use it on-off.

    *****************

    Actually, Drucker wasn’t specific about this until AFTER he was attacked for first supporting tolling. If anyone else had done this — particularly Kampf — Mr. P would be screaming flip-flop.

    What happens if Kampf votes against the 422 tolling, as he said he would? Does Petersen give him credit for sticking to his principles? Or does he just call him stupid?

    I particularly like the way Mr. Petersen has already decided what is going to happen and judged Rep. Kampf guilty. He must have learned that in law school.

    Finally, just as many if not more people are against the tolling than for it, so I guess that makes all them dumb too in Mr. P’s world.

    [Reply]

    PC Watcher Reply:

    politically convenient? for a politician. How clever.

    Drucker didn’t exactly take a principled stand. Can you accept that politics are what they are, and give up your aspirations for a perfect world?

    [Reply]

  3. Pattye,

    In addition to 422, I95 & I476 were mentioned in the list of highways to be studied. I don’t quite see how this wouldn’t increase traffic congestion & backups. I’m sure we’ve all been caught in bumper to bumper traffic during rush hours & I can’t image having to go through a toll booth during rush hour.

    How about the AC Expressway tolls & the I95 toll coming north in Maryland & their back ups? This would be far worse.

    Let’s just see what they come up with….

    [Reply]

    anonymous Reply:

    In today’s world, tolling no longer includes toll booths. If 422 is tolled, there will be no toll booths. everything is electronic, take a look at the slip ramp for example.

    [Reply]

    Mr. Roboto Reply:

    What you say may be true in 10 years, but for now there will be Toll Booths because not everyone has Easy Pass. Have you ever driven on the Turnpike past Route 611 at Rushhour and seen the 1/2 mile back up of cars trying to exit? That’s due to the high percentage of drivers who still don’t have Easy Pass.

    [Reply]

  4. Here’s the thing about 422 and tolling of other highways: these routes were built with public money for public use. People forget that.

    If a private investment group — or even a public/private partnership — wants to implement toll roads, let them build a new road with their private money. They can incur all costs (buying property, etc) related to the new roadway and recoup (or not) their investment.

    Until then, why should the public who paid for fair use of the roadway be subjected to increased costs to private institutions.

    If the issue is about maintenance, expansion, etc., then start looking at public revenue sources to pay for it.

    [Reply]

  5. Penn dot spent millions setting up entrance ramp/traffic control meters on Blue Route, and more for signs telling you about traffic. Ramp meters haven’t assuaged traffic( took years to turn them on as well) and who needs signs at their cost in this economic environment. Guess it was a shovel ready project, or just a gift to the public union sector. Instead, maybe widening 422 would have been better use of funds. Somehow, somewhere. maybe John Petersen can get on the job and figure out how it can work!

    Work Work Work.. off to work I go.

    [Reply]

  6. Looked into the 422 legislation being discussed now and found something that is highly disturbing: the one bill that is being pushed in the House takes all decision making away from local government or even the state legislature and puts it into the hands of an appointed board. This board would be who decides issues of tolling, which roads, etc. after hearing presentations from private industry.

    That’s plain scary: an unaccountable board that will shift with the political winds (i.e. business during GOP / labor during DEM) deciding our future.

    I hope Kampf does oppose this!

    [Reply]

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