Barry Schoch

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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