Barry Seymour

Is Tolling 422 the ‘Only’ Solution to Traffic Nightmare?

Tolling of 422 continues to be a topic of discussion.  A few days ago, Barry Seymour,Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) wrote an editorial with claims that tolling is the best option to improve 422 traffic problems. This article reconfirms Seymour’s presentation last month to Gov. Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.

Here’s some interesting statistics from Seymour’s editorial:

About 65,000 commuters drive each day between Royersford and Collegeville; and within the next 25 years, that number will increase by 44 percent to over 93,000 commuters. Today, the average 422 commuter spends the equivalent of two weeks vacation stuck in traffic; by 2035, without additional capacity, time wasted will grow to the equivalent of four weeks, and the road will be in gridlock.

Seymour claims that 422 improvements will cost $700 million in improvements over the next decade and laments that few options are available for funding.  With the Federal government dollars decreasing and PennDOT’s budget of $243 million over the next 8 years, what alternatives remain?   If you support Seymour’s theory, you quickly conclude that tolling 422 is about the only way that to improve the daily commuter nightmare.

Because the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission will be finalizing and delivering its recommended plan to Corbett by Aug. 1, Seymour likewise is continuing to put forth his case.  Expected in the plan will be a recommendation for a local taxation authority dedicated to specific roads in a given region. The idea of a local multi-county taxation authority is to direct funding for local improvements. 

According to Seymour, “ . . . By 2035, a commuter who travels the full distance on the expressway would save more than 40 minutes daily or about $7,000 per year in travel time value.”  With the clock counting down to the deadline for the governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, Seymour needs to make sure he has a voice in Harrisburg.

To read Seymour’s editorial, click here.

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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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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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