Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Rep. Paul Drucker Favors 422 Tolling . . . what do you think?

I was looking at the Times Herald newspaper online today and came across a video of Rep. Paul Drucker; he was at Times Herald in Norristown yesterday and answered questions during an editorial meeting. It was the headline of the following article, Rep. Paul Drucker Favors 422 Tolling which summarized the video that caught my eye.
I know that the State lost its bid for tolling on Interstate 80 a couple of days ago, but the notion of putting tolls on Rt. 422, all I can say is wow! I’m usually in agreement with my friend Paul Drucker but I’m struggling with his support of tolling 422. Route 422 and ‘traffic nightmare’ are words that often find themselves in the same sentence, do we think that tolls is going to help the situation? Tolls on 422 would affect Tredyffrin residents, and I’m not convinced the affect would be positive. Am I missing something? What do you think?
To view Rep. Paul Drucker’s video in the Main Line Suburban.

Rep. Paul Drucker Favors 422 Tolling

By Jenny DeHuff
Times Herald Newspaper

State Rep. Paul Drucker, D-157th, of Montgomery and Chester counties, said he will push for the proposal that would authorize the tolling of Route 422, during an editorial board meeting at The Times Herald on Thursday.

Drucker, in his second year in the General Assembly, admitted he was not fully acquainted with some of the issues, but said the tolling of Route 422, to pay for the Schuylkill Valley Metro transportation project, was a good idea.

“As I understand the proposal, the only way that 422 can be developed, along with the light-rail line, is by tolling,” he told The Times Herald.

“Anybody who sits on 422, or wishes they were on a train, from Reading to Philadelphia or Norristown – they are just counting the days until that development is a reality.”

The busiest stretch of Route 422, which runs from King of Prussia to Reading, is more than 40 miles long. Many advocates of the plan say tolling is the only way to pay for the cost of a rail line connecting Philadelphia and Reading.

According to the Schuylkill Valley Metro Web site, the 62-mile railway system would alleviate problems consistent with growth and development along the Route 422 corridor, which touches along the river between Philadelphia, Norristown and Reading.

The project currently lacks subsidies, and whether SEPTA will commit to a dedicated funding source remains unclear.
“The plan, as it was explained to me, is that short-term users – on- and off-type users of 422, will not be tolled, because of some of the technology that is in place,” said Drucker. “Tolling will be for the people who use it during more of a steady period. The only way (the Schuylkill Valley Metro) proposal is economically viable is with tolling.”

Describing himself as “always learning” more about state house issues, Drucker said the No. 1 flaw he encountered in public service was the lack of bipartisan cooperation. “I don’t think the General Assembly is particularly efficient,” he said. “This has been a very frustrating year. I’m glad we finally got over the paralysis in the budget.”

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  1. The tolling idea, while bad on its on merits, was not the most disappointing part of the on-line coverage. It was the part where Drucker admits that he isn’t really familiar with the issues. 2 years and not familiar. What has he been doing? His press releases make it sound like a lot; his own interview not so much.

  2. One other thing…

    People will try to avoid the tolls whenever possible. That traffic will be pushed off to local neighborhood streets. Think “traffic nightmare” on 422 is bad, imagine it on community streets!

  3. Tolling Interstate 80 makes complete sense as it is an alternative to Interstate 76 — and much of the non-PA traffic has been diverted to 80 to avoid the turnpike tolls. But 422???? There is absolutely no way that any kind of toll on that road would be anything more than a nuisance — and would again divert traffic away from the road into areas that are not built for commuting. Tolls build and maintain roads — rail systems are about community development — and the notion as it is explained above makes zero sense in a land planning or community planning environment. Interim taxes and transfer taxes and federal grants for public transportation are all sources of revenue designed to enhance the value of the 422 corridor — (interim and transfer taxes that would result from future development of the area would be used to pay bonds that were issued for the building of the line). No offense to your friend Paul Drucker, but at some point, we need more than lawyers elected to harrisburg…problem solvers and people educated in these issues — so that lobbyists don’t write all the rules.

  4. What is it with these politicians? Money money money. WHy don’t we wait and see how deleterious Obama care will be ( until it is hopefully repudiated in court or the ballot box) before our caring politicians try to take even MORE money from our pockets. I agree too many lawyers. Skewed vision. I applaud you Pattye for being principled on this one.

  5. On and off users won’t pay tolls, just longer distance users? Come on.. Just more “warfare”, (class. driver) and don’t think there won’t be ways around it. The law of unintended consequences…

  6. I don’t think Pauls idea is a bad one. After all, the economy is doing really well right now, everybody is working and can afford paying more to our governments. It’s about time our politicians came up with another project or program that we should pay for! Heavens sake, we don’t want grass growing under their feet! While Pauls add it, I think he should champion a VAT tax locally! I haven’t noticed things going up in price (like gas at the pumps) and this would be another great way to grab some revenue and maybe hire more government workers. What the heck – so he doesn’t know the issue – he shouldn’t let that get in the way of anything! Way to go Paul!

  7. As long as government tagged cars are exempt from the tolls…and would 422 come under PennDOT or the PTC? Always important to know which group to lobby about it.

  8. the only idea that is more ridiculous than a toll on 422 is claiming that a light rail line is worth the expense.
    what’s next? a sidewalk and/or dedicated bike lane on 422?

  9. If you think traffic is a mess on 422 now, guess what it would be like with tollls, What a nightmare it would create. Wrong road to toll.

    1. I had to laugh when I read that Judy Schwank, who works for a policy group that promotes the reduction of sprawl, drives to work in the city from Fleetwood, Berks County.

  10. John:

    Regarding Matthews Ford, a property owner doesn’t meet somebody’s
    (yours or a “regional planner’s”) definition of “optimal use”, the government should use eminent domain to take their property?

  11. The R6 extension would run from Norristown to Reading, with stops at Valley Forge and Phoenixville. According to the R6 Extension Study, “the R6 rail service extension project is expected to provide substantial mobility and economic benefits to the residents and businesses between Norristown and Reading. In addition, it should serve as a catalyst for economic revitalization in the adjacent communities and provide another transportation option for commuters who travel in the increasingly heavy peak hour congestion on US 422.” There’s a lot of development going on near the proposed Valley Forge stop. The Village at Valley Forge, the Casino, additional areas zoned for high-density housing. Phoenixville is beingfor revitalization and growth and doesn’t have a commuter rail system. So much planning has gone on around this proposed rail line.

    Tolling 422 appears to be the only way to get it up and running.

    Transit Oriented Development is a fast growing trend. Dense, walkable communities centered around train stations. Smart Growth that’s supposed to reduce pollution, traffic, sprawl. Increase property values. Provide a better quality of life.

    I wonder if the toll funds would be used to finance the proposed Greenline which would run from Oaks to the new Paoli Transportation Center? The Greenline would have stops at Phoenixville, Great Valley, Swedesford Road, Vanguard, Wyeth…

    1. John:

      in my view, the government should not be using eminent domain to displace long-standing businesses, or residences for that matter, for “optimal use” in Paoli or elsewhere.


      It seems that area communities all want to be the “next Wayne”, with its successful retailers, restaurants and other small businesses. However, Wayne has major assets which can’t be replicated in Paoli, much less in Berwyn or Devon, as has been suggested by some. Wayne has almost ideal topography for a central intersection – straight and flat on Lancaster Ave for excellent visibility. It is relatively densely populated and walkable to a large number of desirable, historic homes. There is a full block + for retail north of Lancaster – they’re not “hemmed in” by having the railroad too close to Lancaster, unlike Paoli and Berwyn. Also, because of the setbacks, Wayne has ample diagonal, not parallel, on-street parking. They have the drawing power of a movie theater, four churches, several preschools, and the Radnor Middle School and Library. Finally, they have along history of vibrant commercial activity – people are in the habit of going “downtown” to Wayne.

      Back to Paoli and the Transportation Center, what I fear we’ll get is a bunch of car and bus traffic, big parking areas, and associated problems from people that drive from other communities, and maybe buy a cup of coffee before they get on the train. Trying to think of areas where this has been successful but the only places I’ve been, Hamilton or Princeton Junction in NJ, are nightmares. Anyone have any examples of mature places like Paoli where the transportation center idea has been a win for the community?

      1. Not agreeing with it doesn’t make any difference — it’s still the law and invites litigation– otherwise how would you propose ED to influence Matthews Ford? Aren’t the Depot shoppes within walking distance of Paoli now — and continually turning over? For me, the bottom line for any changes is– would we will willing to fund it ourselves? Would love businesses consider paying for anything but lobbying efforts to get it to happen? Not sure where the cost/benefit falls in this one.

    2. Christine, you say that a rail line would help development along 422. Wasn’t that the plan for 422 itself? You make assumptions that property values would increase? Maybe yes, maybe no. I think that is a cover for social engineering that you and others like to partake in. If you have the same amount of people living in a dense area, or “sprawled” area, you still have the same amount of people. Are they going to eliminate their cars altogether? Does the commuter line use energy? I am thinking of the light signals on the ramps entering the Blue Route. Now that they are working I can tell you they haven’t changed the traffic patterns where they were supposed to have the most impact. In fact, these metered entrance ramps only cause congestion on the back roads during rush hour, making more cars back up and creating hazards on these back roads. Check out Macdade Blvd ramp heading north on the Blue Route at 5PM. Look at the failure of the Upper Merion Golf course as a “dense community.. Worthington? Years away. Sure, plan for the good times, but I am not sure dense communities are all they are cracked up to be. When you consider the wet blanket of increased taxes and regulation on everything we use/do coming down the pike( unless changed, hopefully) I don’t think we should be spending money on tolls, planning dense communities and other things to satisfy some who want to dictate how others live. What’s coming next, a new law or regulation providing for tax on homes purchased exceeding 3000 sq feet in order to redistribute funds for an “environmentally sound” community? If the market is there, then a builder will build it. Now there is a novel word, “market”. Thanks for listening

  12. To clarify, eminent domain should be used VERY rarely and certainly not in the case of Matthews Ford, in my opinion.

  13. I believe that Wilson Park’s PRICE was set by eminent domain…the property itself was for sale. Very different than acquiring property currently in use for a public purpose. The Supreme Court changed the landscape on the topic relatively recently by suggesting that economic development was a legitimate purpose — which means anything could be taken under that guise of improving an economy. Typically it is restricted to government for roads, parks or schools for new facilities or expansions. It took forever to build the blue route because of the complications of using ED to acquire property. Any others I’m forgetting?

    1. What do you mean the “PRICE was set by eminent domain?” Eminent domain is defined as a government’s right to acquire private property for a public use for just compensation. Your assertion is that the process for determining just compensation was used but that the government was sold theproperty? I don’t think I understand – please elaborate. In any event, it’s not eminent domain if the property was not taken by the government, that would be a sale.

      Also, I agree with the commentary on Kelo to some extent. Although, given the previous land use decisions from SCOTUS, it is hardly a drastic shift if you are familiar with the past precedent but the notion that private property could be taken and given to a private party in the interest of community economic benefit is what sets Kelo apart if I recall correctly.

    2. Township Reader – You are incorrect. The Wilson Park property was ED’d from a developer. There was a court battle as to the value of the property. In the end the developer got significantly less than he wanted, and Tredyffrin paid more than twice what they thought that they would.

      1. I apologize. Perhaps someone can refresh my memory of the exchange. I believed that the township pursued the property by purchase — that a Developer swooped down and got it, and then the township used ED to take it back..basically negating the sale as they relied on the cost of the property that was paid, not the new “value” of the property that the developer claimed because of what they planned to do with it. The litigation of price being the ultimate outcome of the ED…but truly, we may be talking semantics. I know ED was used — but only technically? I don’t remember all the details. Sorry for muddying the waters.

    1. You’re right, an interesting turn of events at the SCOTUS. I’m not a lawyer, but it appears that the minority’s property rights views trumped their state’s rights bias.

  14. To John P —

    What do you mean look at P-Ville to see what Ken can do? Ken is well known (and on record) for having opposed the revitalization along what is now restaurant row and many of the support mechanisms that helped it happen. That was part of his core conservative beliefs. I know you get on Kampf for saying things you think are trumped up, but to now say Ken was a part of P-Ville’s revitalization is hilarious!

    1. “From the West Ken is well known (and on record) for having opposed the revitalization along what is now restaurant row and many of the support mechanisms that helped it happen.”

      If you are referring to the vote several years ago where Council approved a $625,000 five year contract to be awarded to the Phoenixville CDC, guilty as charged; I voted against that expenditure. Would I have voted for one year at $125,000 at that time? Absolutely. You can read the news article at:

  15. Thanks Mike for the reference — and I appreciate your analysis of Paoli. It is much closer in geography to Bryn Mawr — your point about the parking is especially on point — Bryn Mawr is handicapped by parallel parking on Route 30 == and while it is loosely a walking town center (Ludington Library and countless retail shops up and down Route 30), it certainly isn’t Wayne or Ardmore (Suburban Square specifically). There are colleges and private schools in that area that probably contribute a fair amount of walking traffic. Anyone hoping to expand Paoli in the near term should drive the area from Rosemont to Wynnewood on Route 30 — all walking areas with countless empty storefronts. Unless you count Car Dealerships as active business, Route 30 just cannot compete as a retail center with anyplace with adequate parking.
    John P responded to your analysis and referenced the Supreme Court decision after you had offered the link — though he posted it above your clarification — not sure being within walking distance of Paoli makes him any more knowledgeable, but I hope Pattye starts a new topic so it’s easier to follow this one. I keep forgetting where it originated!

    1. Excellent points, T.R.. especially:

      “For me, the bottom line for any changes is– would we will willing to fund it ourselves?” This notion that lets build a project thing ’cause we can get the state or Feds to pay for it drives me nuts. If we can’t justify the cost with benefits, it should not be done, regardless of whether “grant money” is available.

      Also, “Would love businesses consider paying for anything but lobbying efforts to get it to happen?”

      Regardless, I really don’t see the benefit, as opposed to the costs, to our community of being a transportation hub – Paoli, “the new 69th Street!”

    2. John:

      I’m not sure what exactly a “propensity/slippery slope argument” is – I guess I should have gone to law school.

      As for a “debate” on Paoli, my point is that there are very significant challenges related to the topography and existing infrastructure in Paoli – do you agree with that? These challenges can only be minimized, not solved, by the spending of probably tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on the infrastructure. We’re talking bridges, roads, sidewalks, acquisition of property, etc. to create a transportation center, to which people from other communities will drive and park in multi-level garages, or SEPTA or shuttle buses that will run to Vanguard, Great Valley Corp. Center, Phoenixville … not really providing additional transportation for Tredyffrin’s residents. Obviously, more vehicular traffic on Lancaster, Central, North Valley, Paoli Pike and other area roads. John, you live in Paoli and already have access to convenient R5 train service downtown – I understand the attractiveness and real estate value as I walked to Strafford for 12 years – wouldn’t you and the other residents rather be able to walk to the current station and get on the Amtrak or R5, without all the attendant costs and disruption and traffic from people outside the Paoli to this project? I hear this talk of revitalizing Paoli’s business community or “town center, of sorts”, but give me examples of where this has worked well for communities like Paoli. Frankly, I would be less likely to go to Paoli. By the way, the businesses are not stepping forward with money for the infrastructure and the Township is not expected to benefit through significantly higher tax revenue, certainly not enough to recover the investment.

      I say it only half in jest “Paoli – the 69th Street of the 21st Century”.

  16. John;

    Regardless of how you may want to characterize/mischaracterize my points, the facts remain:

    – This is a project that will cost millions and maybe tens of millions of TAXPAYER dollars, some of it Tredyffrin’s.

    – You may call it “slippery slope”, but his project will have consequences that should be evaluated based on their costs and the impact on this community. If this Transportation Center is not going to bring more people to Paoli, then why is it being built? Most of those people will arrive by car and some by bus or shuttle – this will create more vehicular traffic. Sounds like a “rational premise” to me.
    Then I asked you a genuine question, as a resident of Paoli and living close to the train, how you and your neighbors feel about these potential problems -you say, “I am not an isolationist”. You say, “We already have a lot of folks that come from outside Paoli” – get ready for more.

    – As for tax revenues, Tredyffrin does not have taxes based on business revenue – the Township doesn’t get a penny more whether Starbucks sells 100 or 1000 cups of coffee a day. To the extent there is property development that is taxable (I assume the Center and parking will not pay real estate taxes), the tax rolls would grow. Enough to offset our increased investment and operating costs? That should be evaluated.

    – The Paoli Transportation Center, which will have a multi-deck parking garage, Amtrak/SEPTA train station, and extensive bus/shuttle service, is not Narberth, or Wayne or Bryn Mawr either. About the only thing they’ll have in common is they’ll be on the R5.

    – Look at the history of 69th Street – through most of the 20th Century and to a lesser extent now, it was THE major transportation center for Delaware County, as Delco developed to the west It is the connection point for the Norristown Line, Market Frankford Subway, and numerous bus and trolley lines. “Stuff of fools”?

    Granted, I see nominal benefits and significant costs, both financial and quality of life, of the PTC, particularly for Tredyffrin Township. You say you done some reading and research on regional planning and transportation. Enlighten me and the others on this board as to the benefits of such a project.

  17. Oh John — what an ugly view of people you hold. You offer a debate, and then you write off the merits of what Mike has suggested as being wrong because his analogy doesn’t apply — and then you state that Narberth, Bryn Mawr and Wayne are examples where things are working — and suggest that you don’t need that to be true because it’s your opinion. The slippery slope conclusion you reach is that Mike believes that it’s all going to lead to hell in a handbasket. I know you love to lawyer us all — school us in the terms you learned in law school — but why not try to support your own opinions rather than degrade others?
    69th St in Paoli is not the stuff of fools. Compare that comment to your own: “there would almost certainly have to be increased tax revenues to the township. More residents, more business. It would be a certainty.”

    Almost certainly? More residents ? On what do you base that — or should I remember that you said you are out of here in one more year when your son is done. Perhaps your house is well positioned to be part of an ED taking — so you think it would help move your house. Narberth has sidewalks — it is far from a town center when it comes to the train station. Wynnewood has a mall at the train station — and turns stores over continually — despite a large apartment complex, Lankenau hospital nearby, and lovely homes. How does getting more people to park in Paoli improve the attractiveness of living in Paoli? Walk to Train exists up and down the R-5. What about Ardmore (where the Route 30 storefronts are seriously empty) — and Mike’s argument that Wayne has diagonal parking vs. Bryn Mawr — which is hardly an active walking community for residents — students perhaps —
    Well, I’m going to look for some wax paper to make my slopes slippery enough to let me slide on out of here…as I have said to others in the past — I read this site to learn what others are thinking, and am happy to share what I am thinking. Somehow, unless you are talking politics, you are out of your element. You only share what you think of others. Am I at all close?

  18. why does anyone bother to answer this Mr. Petersen? Ignore him and maybe he will go away. Just not a nice man.

    1. I find it sad that you have to resort to sarcasm and personal attacks. Could you could actually make and support an argument rather than engaging in sniping. It would really help me to understand your positions. Thanks Chet!

  19. what personal attacks? Nice of you to stick up for Mr. Petersen.
    I think the majority here would agree he is not a nice man, and many of his good, salient opinions are diminished by his sarcasm and personal attack… ” the stuff of fools” etc. He has very little social manner.

    I dont think Matthews should be forced or told to move anywhere, unless it made sense for Matthews. PRIVATE!
    So there is one opinion. Agree? disagree?

  20. Come on gents,,seems to me what we have is a sound debate on the pros & cons of the transportation center. Both sides making their views known – which is the purpose of this site. The other of us can support the views of JP or take Mike’s side – and that should be done civilly. At times JP can be a pompous ass but all we need to remember is that he an Attorney and as such that is to be expected. Just look at the US Senate and you will find many a pompous ass.
    My personal views are in line with Mike as I see the PTC acting like a magnet to draw “commuters” off the roads by providing a hub for multiple forms of public and private transportation. I only see increased problems for Paoli traffic wise and no positives for small businesses. People will be more interested in making their connection or finding their car to get home for the little league game than stooping for a pint or a cup of Java.
    I also am befuddled by the argument that the PTC will bring new housing. Where and why????

    1. You’ve articulated my thoughts well on the PTC, papadick. The scenario you paint is exactly what I envision. Drive from Charlestown or East Goshen, etc. to Paoli, catch the train – then, at the end of the day, hop off the train in Paoli, and drive home.

      I see very little benefit to Tredyffrin. I’m willing to accept certain things for the “greater good” of the communities west of us, but shouldn’t there be some benefit to us? Especially since Tredyffrin taxpayers will bear significant upfront and ongoing costs and quality of life issues from the increased traffic.

    2. If you take a look at our amended zoning ordinance, you will get a good idea what sort of development might take place in Paoli.

      The land directly around the train station is zoned Tranist District TD. TD will allow for the transportation center, apartments, stores, restaurants, structured parking…

      Picture 7 STORY BUILDINGS with stores on the ground floor, condos on the upper floors, 25 feet from the street, no side yards. Building lots have to be at least 1 acre and up to 85 percent of the lot can be impervious coverage. 10 % of the land has to be used as public space – Public space shall contain seating, permanent landscaping and lighting for nighttime use.

      The land around the 7 STORY mixed-use structures is zoned a Town Center District (TCD) and can be built up with 5 STORY mixed-use retail/condos even closer to the street. No side yards. No front setbacks besides 5 feet of sidewalk…

      Link to the Paoli Master Plan

      Here’s the link to the Zoning Ordinances

      Here’s the link to the Paoli Zoning Map. Note the areas labeled TD and TCD.

      Also, keep an eye on House Bill 2291. Referred to appropriations in the Senate March 23, 2010. This is the bill that will give $$$$$$$$$$ towards the construction and redevelopment of the Paoli Transit Center area. I imagine land speculators will be knocking on resident’s doors if this is passed. It will be interesting to see what happens.

      Capital Projects – Tredyffrin and Willistown Townships – for the construction of the Paoli Transit Center, including infrastructure and other related costs. Project Allocation – $20,000,000

      Redevelopment Assistance Projects – Tredyffrin and Willistown Townships – for the acquisition, abatement of hazardous materials, redevelopment and other related costs for the Paoli Transit Center. Project Allocation – $20,000,000

      1. Thank you for the links, Christine – they really help all of us understand what this project entails.

        $40 million in PA taxpayer money, to start. 5 and 7 story mixed-use buildings in Paoli, including condos and parking garages, Plus our Township will bear upfront infrastructure costs and ongoing costs of law enforcement, public works, etc. I’m still waiting for someone to tell us how the PTC offers a net benefit for Tredyffrin?

    3. Thanks for the compliment….
      and we agree that the combination of a lawyer and wearing a beanie with a propeller on it is a perfect union for being a pompous ass.
      Knowing this background makes me a tad more sympathetic of your manner of delivery.

      Would seem to me that if a transit center is need in the county then maybe Exton should be considered rather than small quaint Paoli area. More open space available as well as easy on/off to 202 – 30 – 100.

  21. Unfortunately, some of the comments on this post have now become personal sniping which is not the purpose of Community Matters. To give all a heads-up, I will not add more comments to this post that use this type of approach in their remarks. You are welcome to make your points and debate the issues but leave the sniping out – thank you.

  22. At 12:31 you said you would not include sniping — and then John posts at 9:45 and starts with “by the way genius…” and says comments are amusing.

    Clearly sniping is subjective …. I don’t think you should bother to try to weed it out. We’re all big people here and can consider the sources as they come our way.
    Thanks Pattye.

    1. “by the way, genius” Mr. Petersen. I think he needs detention, even with all his proported genius. hey Pattye, why no censure of your friend?

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