For Whom the Road Tolls: Day of Reckoning for Rt. 422 Tolling Begins

The tolling of Rt. 422 was front-page headlines in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Rising to the top of the local news charts, the tolling of 422 is not ‘new’ news for most of us. Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, you could not have missed this much discussed campaign topic during the last State House 157 election cycle.  There was much heated debate from both sides on the ‘to toll or not to toll’ 422 issue.

If you are one of the 110,000+ commuters who daily sit in parking lot gridlock, known as Rt. 422, it looks like there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow (Monday), Barry Seymour of Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) will present agenda item, ‘US 422 Plus: A Proposal for Funding Improvements’  (click here for agenda) to the Governors Transportation Funding Advisory Committee.  The DVRPC $625K plan “would create a locally run authority to collect 11 cents per mile and keep that money to fund improvements such as new lanes”.  Seymour hopes his DVRPC plan will convince the advisory committee and ultimately Gov. Corbett of the value of the 422-tolling project.

If granted legislative approval, the project would become the first locally managed highway toll system of its kind in Pennsylvania . . . a ‘model’ for the state.  All of the revenue would be devoted to 422-corridor projects and DVRPC plan supporters believe that making Rt. 422 a toll road in Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties is the only way to pay for a new passenger-rail service to Reading and to finance the badly needed upgrades to the congested highway. 

Others voice opposition to the 422 tolling issue, including our own State Rep Warren Kampf.  Still standing behind his campaign promise to voters not to toll 422, Kampf believes that “Tolling is just another way of taxing people going to work in these hard economic times. They’re already paying a lot of money in gas taxes and other fees” and he doesn’t “think that this is something they want.”

Where does this leave the frustrated, brake-slamming, horn-worthy commuters who suffer the daily use of Route 422?  Maybe answers will emerge as the day of reckoning begins in Harrisburg tomorrow.

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  1. II live in Strafford and drive 422 dailiy to my pharm job in Oaks. It is some of the worse traffic I have experienced in my adult working caree, something needs to be done to fix the traffic nightmare. The commute is the worse part of the workday.

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  2. 422 Commuter – aren’t you going against traffic? I drive to oaks every morning as well, and I never have any traffic in the morning, or on the way home. ???

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  3. Everyone should investigate the legislation being actively considered in Harrisburg as part of these hearings. (There are several pieces, so make sure to look at the right one.)

    When you do, you will see that this particular legislation appoints a board to make decisions on where tolling may occur without state legislative or even local approval.

    This board would hear proposals from different private entities and then approve (or not approve) them, also committing public money (tax dollars) to those projects.

    I am all for public/private partnerships, but not when the public’s voice is taken away by an appointed board that will swing with the political winds depending upon who is in the Governor’s office.

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  4. What solutions is Rep. Kampf offering?

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    “What solutions is Rep. Kampf offering?” — Now there’s a question for which I have no answer.

    We know that during the 157 campaign against Paul Drucker, Kampf took the firm position against the tolling of 422. Kampf has been in state house office for 5+ months and according to his quote in yesterday’s Inquirer, his position remains firm — no 422 tolling! Pennsylvania has the distinction of leading the country in roads and bridges in need of repairs and improvements, so how does Kampf propose to fund the infrastructure needs? The community knows that Kampf opposes 422 tolling as a funding option, but what alternatives does he offer? Unless I have missed a press release, I don’t know that Rep. Kampf has indicated funding solutions to improve Rt. 422 and other infrastructure needs, other than tolling.

    If Rep.Kampf or a staff member would like to respond to the question, please email me at tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com

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    Harry Bailey Reply:

    Rep. Kampf won a very close election in a year that was particularly kind to Republicans. A big part of his victory was his Tea Party support which he received, in large part, from his firm opposition to tolling 422. Rep. Kampf is now wedded to the local Tea Party and their ideology in this matter and, very likely, other matters as well.

    Tea Party groups tend to be very ideological to the point of absolutely ignoring practicality or realpolitik. They don’t always appreciate the nuances of various issues. Theirs tends to be a world of black and white, with few, if any, shades of gray. If you’re not with them 100%, you’re against them, you’re an enemy of the state.

    Because this was, essentially, the one substantive issue in 2010’s race, and the one that allowed Rep. Kampf to achieve victory, he doesn’t dare be seen as equivocating in any way. Should he do so, he’d be drawn and quartered by his most fervent supporters, his political ashes scattered to the four winds. Doesn’t matter whether tolling 422 might be the best, most reasonable, practical solution or not. Rep. Kampf has made his devil’s bargain.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Question for you — if Kampf has made his ‘devil’s bargain’ as you say and must stand firm on his opposition to 422 tolling, what happens going foward with the redistricting of the 157 district. Much of Kampf’s anti-tolling supporters are from the Montgomery County portion of Rt. 422. (remember the no tolling 422 signs along that highway). If in redistricting, much of the Montgomery County portion of that section of 422 corridor leaves the 157 district, how do you think this will play out in the next election?

    If (1) we accept that 422 was the major campaign factor in the 2010 election and (2) Kampf’s support from 422 anti-tolling voters in the Montgomery County 422-corridor may by lost by redistricting . . . how does Kampf keep his commitment not to support tolling of 422 and win re-election in 2012? Or is too early to say?

    Harry Bailey Reply:

    If he loses the Montco portion of his district and Phoenixville, that makes it a lot easier for him to walk his opposition back. If he loses Montco and retains Phoenixville, it’s still a sticky situation for him. If I’m Rep. Kampf, I want an opportunity to ratchet down my opposition without the local Tea Party handing me my head. If, after redistricting, he’s left with essentially Tredyffrin, he’ll be able to accomplish this. He’ll be able to say that he took a look at a specific plan and, even though it calls for tolling, the long and short-term benefits outweigh the minimal expense, etc etc.

    anonymous Reply:

    There is no question that Paul Drucker lost this race because of the 422 tolling issue. The only person who doesn’t know that (or won’t admit it to himself because it’s too painful for someone like him to do so) is Paul Drucker. Harry Bailey is correct on all counts.

  5. I wonder if Kampf would agree to toll 422 if there was an offsetting reduction in gasoline taxes paid by residents in the area served by 422. If I hear the tea party correctly, they want no additional taxes, but are willing to trade one tax for another as long as the tax burden does not increase.

    I’m all for taxing those people who consume the government services (e.g. tolling 422) when it is economical to do so. The problem for the local taxpayers is that all the gasoline taxes collected from the local residents that might have gone to improving 422 now go somewhere else.

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  6. I know that Kampf is the local Representative, but I think people are being myopic focusing only on him as this is a much broader issue.

    To start, several reps from MontCo and Berks are against the 422 tolling and made this known in 2010 and again through this process. Some are House leadership (Rep. Vereb), some are longer-term members (Rep. Quigley) and some are freshmen like Kampf (Rep. Maloney). It’s pretty clear that this issue is not universally decided by the legislature.

    As for this being purely political, I find that hard to believe as well since some of the Representatives above faced little to no real opposition last fall.

    422 tolling is an important issue for many and I can’t believe that all these Representatives (and more) took a stance that is against what their constituents want. Could it possibly be that the majority of their residents have told them they, too, oppose the tolling?

    As to what happens if Kampf loses the MontCo portion of his district in re-destricting and does this make it easier for him to “change” his position. That, to me, would be more politically blantant and driven than anything else he could do.

    Finally, there are many legislators across the state who are against tolling 422, not because of 422 but because of what it could mean in their area. All you have to do is look back at the uproar over tolling Route 80 — legislators all the way from the Poconos to Elk County and beyond.

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  7. Just an observation: I do not have a dog in this fight, but I just spent 5 days in Dallas (lived there 20 years ago). In the time I have been gone, Dallas has added 2 significant light rail lines (there were none when I lived there), 2 turnpikes, extended the major toll road 40 miles, added a freeway (8 lanes) out to the airport, and widened every major expressway. Gas was $3.49 a gallon. There is clearly some benefit to a regional transportation planning effort. “IF we build it, they will come” …? Some roads are toll tag only (with a plan called “ZipCash” that costs 25% more than the toll tag). Pennsylvania, with our counties and townships and difficult land acquisition process really is limited. North Dallas has a board, not individual reps to my knowledge. Not sure this state is either bold enough or strategic enough to take big steps.

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  8. Pattye,

    Glad you were able to get the Inquirer article. I’ve been incommunicado these past 3 days, so didn’t see your post until now.

    Would appear there will be lots of commentary on the subject before we’re through. Now to read your post of today.

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