Looks like the 422 Tolling Vision has Taken a Step Forward to Becoming Tomorrow’s Reality!

The vision of some to toll 422 moved one step closer to a reality yesterday . . . and by all accounts, did so with flying colors. 

Barry Seymour of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) along with Joe Hoeffel, Montgomery County Commissioner presented the 422-tolling proposal to the Governors Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.  To review the 422 Corridor Plus slide presentation from the meeting, click here.  — I found the information detailed and informative; helped to give me a better picture on the scope of the project.

I was curious to hear the comments and reactions to the 422 presentation and spoke with a Paoli resident who attended the Harrisburg meeting.  Reportedly, there was no tolling opposition from the advisory group – in fact, there was much positive feedback from those in attendance.  Although this meeting is only the first step in a long process, it seems that the DVRPC’s presentation answered several of the questions that I had —

If approved, what the timeline for the 422 project:  2015. 
How much commuter time saved:  DVRPC estimates 20 min.
Toll costs:  A range, $.50 – $2.65, depending on distance travelled.  Four electronic toll booths to be constructed; drivers to use EZ pass.

As discussed earlier, the management of the 422 tolling project would remain local and all revenue generated from the project would be used for local projects, including the light rail commuter train.  I don’t know how I feel about creating another commission or board for this project.  According to a friend, this project could fall under the umbrella of the PA Turnpike Commission with a mandate to keep the tolls generated from 422 locally in Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties. If that’s the case, why create another board; why not have the project fall under the Turnpike Commissioner’s responsibility. I guess the thought is if the project is handled separately under local management, it helps sell the project to residents and possibly adds a level guarantee that the tolling dollars remain here.

In asking how the project would be funded, I was told that initially it would be funded with a $1 billion bond, which would be repaid by tolling revenue.  I’m guessing that the bond issue needs support from the local municipalities involved – would the funding of the project require a voter referendum in the Chester, Montgomery and Berks county districts involved?

Looks like the 422 tolling vision of some has taken a step forward to becoming tomorrow’s reality!

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  1. Remember this statement from Drucker during the campaign? “The plan, as it was explained to me, is that short-term users – on- and off-type users of 422, will not be tolled”

    Now we see a plan that includes a toll on the Schuylkill River Bridge AND between PA29 & Oaks. I wonder how he would have explained that one away?

    Has anyone considered the impact this will have on the alternative backroads (23, 29, Black Rock Road…)?

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    Toshiro Takashi Reply:

    “100% irrelevant…”
    Not so. I was merely pointing out the fact that the voting public made the correct choice.

    Yes, I am suggesting that tolls will push traffic there. There is already traffic on those roads, and it will get worse with the added tolls. Would you rather sit in traffic for free, or pay money to sit in traffic?
    Whoops, I forgot that adding tolls will ‘fix the problem’. The only thing that adding tolls to 422 will do is fill the coffers of the unions and create further expenditures in the form of light rail systems that a minority of people will ride.

    I would suggest that the better way to solve the problem is to build rest areas on 422 that house casinos, and use the revenue generated to pay people who use 422 to stay home and not work, alleviating traffic.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    I’m curious — do you accept that there is a severe traffic problem on 422? And if you accept this premise, what solution would you offer for correcting the traffic problem (excluding tolling)? Pennsylvania has serious infrastructure issues and w/o federal or state $$$, how are the repairs and maintenance issues to be funded?

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    Mr. Roboto Reply:

    Casino rest stops…now there is an idea worth exploring!

    But I think we should take it a step further. Why not solve the T/E School District’s budget gap by placing slot machines in each school’s lunch line? The kids could feed quarters into them while awaiting their delicious high sodium, fructose corn syrup cholesterol laden meals. Yum!

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    Toshiro Takashi Reply:

    Now we are getting somewhere Mr. R…. The school slot machine is a great start. But the money that the kids would feed into the slots would probably be just added directly into the teacher’s pension fund as a new benefit, leaving the budget gap in place.

    I think the problem is that those in power and those who profit from the pool of tax revenue in general will never relinquish. No significant cuts ever get made, there are only increases. A cut to a politician is simply a reduction in the expected increase. For example, once the toll is implemented and enough money is generated to ‘fix the problem’, will the toll be taken away? Anyone care to claim it will? I’m sure the politicians who favor the tolling would probably try to sell that idea, and (like Drucker and his false claim that the toll would only be for long range drivers), they will be long gone when they are hiking up the toll in 10 years to pay for their pet projects instead of getting rid of it.

    What’s the solution? I don’t know. Let’s just borrow the money from future generations. We’re only on the hook for 60 trillion, whats another couple billion? I say spend it now before it becomes worthless!

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    Toshiro Takashi Reply:

    “Not sure which is more absurd. The casino idea, Sarah Palins/Michelle Bachmann’s version of American history or Warren Kampf’s stance on the issue.”

    Your assertion that the Tredyffrin BOS are akin to a murderous Nazi regime wins the absurd prize hands down. At least I was joking about the casino…

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    Toshiro Takashi Reply:

    “Most importantly… I understand why you like and adhere to the politics you do.”

    And why is that?

    I am long on complaints? I am not the one complaining that we need to spend billions on a light rail system so that I can avoid sitting in traffic for a half hour?

    Want a suggestion? How about going to work earlier to avoid traffic. Or, if you are really that concerned about it, move closer to where you work, or find another job closer to where you live.

    As far as paying for infrastructure, I can be found right next to you (assuming you actually pay your taxes).

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    John makes a good point about our suburban sprawl.

    I remember when we purchased our house in Malvern 28 years ago, the Great Valley area of the township was large parcels of land and very few houses — primarily the historic farmhouses. I think that there may have been just one of the buildings in the GV corporate center. Swedesford, N. Valley and Yellow Springs roads were virtually devoid of any traffic. And how it has changed! Swedesford Road during rush hour is amazing. However, Swedesford and Yellow Springs roads date back to the early 1700’s and were built to connect the farms — and many of the 18th c houses are located close to the road so there is absolutely no expansion possibility.

    And then as John says, “along 422, explosive population without an appreciative increase in infrastrure . . .” The construction of the large pharm companies and housing developments out 422 but little consideration for the increase in traffic or improvements to infrastructure this development should have required. Now these many years later, the correction of the problem is involved.

    Where was the master plan 20 years ago for 422? Or were these more rural, developing municipalities just so thrilled to see transfer tax coming in by the boat load that they looked the other way, took the money and didn’t place too many demands on the developers?

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  2. Now we see what their proposal is … there’s still a long way to go.

    I would like to see some comment from drivers who regularly drive 422 during rush hours (Pottstown to 202 in the morning & the reverse in the afternoon). Tredyffrin drivers at present go against the traffic.

    I have occasion to drive to Trooper Road to meet friends for dinner (senior early bird specials) & the backup is horrendous. I still don’t see how toll booths will not cause additional travel time even with proposed highway widening.

    Did DVRPC look at how the 202 widening (Chesterbrook to 30) will alleviate the congestion & backups between here & west of Malvern?

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    Libby Brinton Reply:

    Sorry people, when I wrote toll booths, I was thinking literally (as in the tolls already in existence using E-Z Pass). Has anyone driven through an electronici toll? I have not, and I do a fair amount of out of state driving. Would you have to “slow down” in order for your pass to be read? If this is a cure to backups & congestion, why haven’t all those TBs been replaced.

    Maybe Andrea knows (see her post to Pattye’s prior blog). Do they have them in Texas?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Libby –
    You don’t even slow down in Texas. Same way in South Florida. In Florida, they will bill the license plate if you don’t have a toll tag. The airport uses the same toll tag (it costs to drive in and pick someone up — free under 15 minutes I think?). Delaware has a no-slow down EZ Pass transit on Route 1 I think. It can happen and is obviously a solution, but someone on this blog posted earlier — Willow Grove area has lines every day — because people don’t have EZ Pass or won’t give their credit card to the company? It’s a debit system, so maybe people hesitate.

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  3. Of course there will be impact on the side roads and other roadways that travel parallel to 422. If they have a 20 minute estimated time savings to drivers, how do you think this will happen?
    If the same volume of cars gets on the roadway, there will be the same jams. There will be plenty of people who do not get on 422 because of the tolling. Especially people who only use it for 3-4 or less exits. They will find alternates.

    However, there is also a plus for 422 in the near future as the PA turnpike lip ramp to rt 29 is expected to decrease traffic on 202 and 422 once it is open.

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  4. On his blog, http://tredyffrinpolitics.blogspot.com/ , John Petersen has a great idea to help with the traffic congestion on 422!

    John suggests — “Create an HOV lane… One extra lane, in strategic areas… that switches direction based on time of day. This is done in Pittsburgh. With just one lane, you reduce the footprint. 3 one in one direction and 2 the other. suggestion to help with 422 traffic congestion — ”

    Perhaps an HOV lane would not be a long term ‘fix’ but I have to believe that in the short-term that the construction of a dedicated HOV lane would (1) reduce the traffic congestion during rush hour, (2) cost less in construction costs & (3) have a shorter timeline for construction so as to give relief quicker to the commuters. Washington, DC is my hometown and they have certainly operated HOV lanes successfully for years. John points to Pittsburgh as an example in PA.

    It would be curious if commuter lanes was looked at for 422 — I like this option!

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  5. John Petersen, I think it is just possible that in our current economic climate people are just a little bit hard pressed to get their arms around ANY kind of new tax, toll, tribute, call it what you want. Even if in the long run an electronic toll makes sense for this specific purpose. People see government intruding more and more in their lives, and arguably not for the better. So it is conceivable that blinders you speak of are the result of seeing the wide landscape and having enough.So maybe the merits of an electronic toll are perfectly reasonable. THis may come a surprise to you (about agreeing a toll may be necessary), ANd there is the perfect storm of the roadway badly needing the work but who to pay. So, maybe soon better economic times are ahead, people will not be feeling the pinch of 4 dollar a gallon gas, much of it made up of taxes ostensibly to be used for road repairs, people will more likely be employed, our state and country will have increasing tax revenues and not on the back of tax rate increases and THEN this will be more comfortable to mr and mrs front porch. Maybe the winds of change will be in the air again soon, and there will be a better opportunity to do this. By the way I have driven through these electronic tolls at 55 mph+ and it is very painless,. No time to complain nor wait in line

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  6. The Philadelphia Inquirer came out against tolling of 422 in the Editorial Section of their June 8th edition. A certain commentator on this Blog keeps accusing the public of being uninformed because they oppose tolling. I guess the Inquirer’s Editorial Board is equally ignorant in his view.

    The problem with tolling is the financial burden it places upon commuters. At $2.65 to drive just one way on Route 422, drivers will need to pay an extra $1,200 a year to go to work. That is a significant cost for working class families who work along the 202 corridor, but must live further out West where housing is more affordable.

    Another problem with the tolling idea is that it will increase traffic on side roads because more drivers will use them to avoid having to pay to use 422.

    Finally, we now know that this really is just the tip of the tolling iceberg. I was accused last week of using a slippery slope argument when I cautioned that once they toll Route 422, the tolling of other roadways will not be far behind.

    Now we see that my prediction was spot on. As noted in the June 7th edition of The Daily Local, “Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch said “[t]his is a model for tolling” and “commission members…urged that any enabling legislation be statewide so other local governments could do similar projects.”

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    anonymous Reply:

    Tolling 422 is complete insanity. The road is not large or busy enough to produce the type of income needed. That is besides the fact that it is a horrible burden to put on people driving that road to work every day. Tolls are meant for roads such as turnpikes and roads that span the full length of states, etc.

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    Harry Bailey Reply:

    “The road is not large or busy enough to produce the type of income needed.”

    Really? It’s a BLOODY PARKING LOT! That road’s not busy like bees aren’t busy. That road’s not busy like Anthony Weiner’s not a short-sighted, thinking-with-the-little-head schmuck. That road’s not busy like Dillinger ain’t dead, Fergie ain’t fergalicious, and Amy Winehouse ain’t high. It’s a busy road. Could use some improvements. Only question is how to responsibly deal with the problem.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Why haven’t we heard more about this Greenline? Diesel-electric cars – I like it!

    [Reply]

  7. I wonder if any of the businesses along 422 have weighed in yet? I supported the idea of tolls for the road when the short-trip, local users were to be exempt – but if I have to pay several dollars each time I drive from Chesterbrook to Oaks, I will probably travel to the new Target on Rt. 202 instead, for example. Two or three trips a week will add up quickly!

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  8. About the Regional Transportation Council:

    The Regional Transportation Council (RTC) of the North Central Texas Council of Governments has served as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for regional transportation planning in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1974. The MPO works in cooperation with the region’s transportation providers to address the complex transportation needs of the rapidly growing metropolitan area. The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area includes Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Wise counties. The RTC’s 43 members include local elected or appointed officials from the metropolitan area and representatives from each of the area’s transportation providers. More information can be found at http://www.nctcog.org.

    About the North Central Texas Council of Governments:
    NCTCOG is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG’s purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions.

    NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered on the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Currently, NCTCOG has 240 member governments including 16 counties, 170 cities, 24 school districts, and 30 special districts.

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  9. I am curious where the advertised public-private partnership is coming in on the 422 proposal?

    As far as I have been able to tell, this is entirely public money being utilized…the money of the drivers of 422.

    That is, of course, just step one. If a regional rail line were to be included as part of this project does anyone truly believe SEPTA can run it competently? After all, every year SEPTA comes begging for more public money to prop up their operations. I can’t imagine them suddenly being able to run this rail line correctly, which will result in even more of our tax dollars to prop them up.

    As it stands, this proposal seems to have two groups paying for it: taxpayers and consumers. Doesn’t seem very “private” in partnership.

    I agree that there are things that need to be done, just not sure if this is the best option yet. Perhaps steps would be better: fix/widen 422 then think about a rail line later.

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  10. How about this as a starting point instead of taxes or tolls.

    Give state tax breaks to companies that do business in PA that allow their workers to work from home maybe 3 or 4 days a week.

    61% of Americans have white collar jobs. A good majority of white collar jobs can be performed remotely.

    This would lower taxes to the companies along with saving workers money on gasoline and automobile wear and tear.

    This will also lower the amount of office space needed by companies who could then trim their office space rental/ownership costs. This money savings could then be used to employ more people within these companies possibly creating more jobs.

    This would also partially alleviate the traffic issues along the more heavily traveled PA highways as not as many people would need to leave their homes to go to work everyday.

    This would lead to the delay if not elimante the need to widen problem areas around the state as most people traveling far distances in rush hour are most likely hold white collar jobs and would fall into this work at home category.

    This would not only save the state some money for expanding roads like 422, but would also reduce wear and tear type maintainence. Those savings could be calculated and used to cover the tax breaks.

    And if you could get something like this implemented throughout the US, the US consumption of foreign oil would drop substantially. And we all saw what happened to the price of oil when gas went over $4.00 a gallon and people in the US started to not buy as much. The price proceeded to drop like a rock all the way down to about $2.00 a gallon.

    This is a win/win for everybody without taxing/tolling the little people. This may not be an end all solution, but I think it is a better starting place than 422 toll proposals.

    Obviously, this would need research and planning for this to work with maybe the addition of a tax hike on companies that choose not to participate.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Interesting. Are you aware of any states that already offer this kind of tax incentive?

    [Reply]

    give it a rest Reply:

    Such a bill was offered in 2007. Strange name though.
    Named the Parents’ Tax Relief Act of 2007, the bill sponsored by Senator Brownback of Kansas and Congressman Terry of Nebraska includes items of interest to employers, those who work from home and those who operate home businesses.

    http://homebusiness.about.com/b/2007/03/20/congressional-bill-would-provide-tax-incentives-for-working-from-home.htm

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  11. Someone mentioned the impact on the side roads – but from Reading to Pottsville to College to VF, there are many side roads people can use. The toll will definitely cull the traffic, and that certainly is an intent, but much of the traffic will divert to these side roads. Some of that money will be needed for these roads. I’ve seen no mention of that.

    There is also the origin of the problem: the lack of suburban planning. We continue to develop farm lands, and people move out there because it’s cheaper and the inner circles, from Philly, continue to deteriorate.

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  12. I have already mentioned several problems associated with the Route 422 tolling plan.

    Here is an additional concern: Don’t for a second believe that the tolling revenue collected from Route 422 will find its way back to projects designed to improve that roadway.

    Think I am being alarmist? Well it has happened before and it will happen again.

    You only need to go back as far as 2009 to see the Democrats in Harrisburg raiding a fund that was implemented to cover large malpractice judgments. To read the full story of Democratic Party budgetary shenanigans, just go to the following site: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09281/1003828-28.stm#ixzz1OpokMY55

    This malpractice fund was imposed upon hospitals, physicians and other health professionals. These groups naively went along with contributing to the fund like lambs being lead to the fiscal slaughter because they actually believed that the revenue collected would be used for the fund’s stated purpose (i.e. to cover large malpractice claims). But then to their surprise, these medical professionals found themselves being fleeced by Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and the Democratic party bosses in the State House, who decided to rob the “malpractice fund” to cover the Pennsylvania’s 2009 budget shortfall.

    The lesson from this budgetary abomination is highly instructive. Here we had a tax that was expressly imposed for a single use. But once the money from this tax began to roll into the State coffers, the Democrats started to hungrily eye it as a means to pay for their social welfare projects.

    All of this happened just two years ago. Now, we are supposed to believe that the money collected from tolling Route 422 will actually be funneled back to improving 422. You would have a better chance of money being used for its intended purpose if you entrusted your 401k retirement assets to Bernie Madoff with the expectation that he would legitimately invest it.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. The Route 422 toll revenue may initially be used to improve that roadway, but that is only because there is a Republican Governor in charge. Should the Democrats take control again, however, we can expect the revenue from tolling Route 422 to be robbed by the Democrats so that they can expand their social welfare programs and increase the already bloated pay, benefits and pension funds of State civil servants.

    As the WHO once sang:

    “And I’ll get on my knees and pray
    We don’t get fooled again
    Don’t get fooled again
    No, no!”

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  13. In 2003, according to the US DOT, PA had the 4th largest number of miles in tollroads — 508, behind Florida (657), Oklahoma and New York. In 2004, PA was 2nd in structurally deficient bridges behind Oklahoma (PA 5,474).
    At the same time, PA is 4th in the country in “native born residents” — at 80.3% of people living here that were born here (NY is first with 82.5%).
    IN 1995, PA was FIRST in state funding for public transportation, and had slipped to 4th by 2003 (behind New York, California and Massachusetts). In 2004, PA was third in percentage of households with someone over 65 (behind Florida and Hawaii!)

    WHY all these statistics? Because if you examine them, instead of just spending, you will see what we all know anyway: that PA is an aging state. Our infrastructure is aging, but so is our population. We are not refreshing our population. We are certainly not enriching it by bringing in new industries that attract new residents. So what is the outcome? We have a stagnant economy with no investment in the community. Taking care of your own is about all most people care to do. People are motivated by personal needs, or personal ambition. Keep MY neighborhood good; keep MY school good; keep MY commute manageable. But worry about the region? Not a chance. No kids in the schools? “I’m done paying.”

    JP is angry but he is not misguided. His focus on Kampf minimizes our interest in the debate, because it’s hardly on Kampf. These problems didn’t happen on his watch, but election politics are not unique to him either. We listen to sound bites — we forget to vote — we vote for the candidate who promises not to raise our taxes. If you let your own house fall apart, it only falls on you. But if we let the state fall apart, it falls on “the rest of them” — because we can move away.

    Tolling isn’t the issue. Spending is. NO one who pays attention to government/public sector spending isn’t fed up. They spend money like it’s not their own, because it isn’t. If we thought money was well spent, we would probably be more comfortable with being taxed and paying tolls.

    The references earlier to Austin Texas and Dallas were glossed over, but the reality is that state is growing. That state is doing massive regional planning to accomplish growth and attract growth. PA is betting some of our future on shale? Do we really think those arrogant politicians who get money directly from drillers give a damn about what the outcome is 25 years from now? Then again, did the steel workers union (and now the teachers union) give a damn about anything but today’s paycheck and tomorrow’s pension?

    Sigh. I don’t know how posting frustration on a blog can solve anything, but if we keep talking about Warren Kampf and trying to micromanage 422, instead of talking about BIG PICTURE regional goals (which is not possible in our 501 school district state!), the answers are not in the numbers. They are in the leadership. And leadership doesn’t work anymore — because you can’t get re-elected if you do what’s right — only if you do what’s popular.

    [Reply]

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