Tolls may be coming to Rt. 422

February 21, 2009 10:35:36 AM PST
People who drive Route 422 may one day have to pay for that daily grind. Regional planners have taken the wraps off a proposal to make it a toll road, to help pay for expanding regional rail service.

The daily traffic jams on Rt. 422 in the morning and evening are the stuff of legend.

For years, as the Philadelphia region expanded west, there have been various plans to expand the lanes or extend mass transit lines from Norristown out to Reading.

The latest would use toll money to help pay for a passenger train service out of Norristown and deep into Berks County. Turnpike rate tolls, roughly 8 cents a mile, would be collected on the 422 highway between Douglassville and King of Prussia, about 25 miles of road.

"You can price it by the length of the trip, you can price it by the time of day, by day of week, by type of vehicle, there are all kinds of opportunities and flexibilities in this project," said Leo Bagley of the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

Officials have voted to keep exploring the possibility.

"Berks is prepared to move forward with the next stage of this project," said Glenn Knoblauch of Berks County Planning.

"It's about regionalism. It's about connecting our metropolitan areas. It's about sustainable growth. We need to give people more options to leave the car behind," said Ellen Horan of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce.

Those tri-county officials insist 422 tolls are not a done deal yet. A final decision, they say, is still two years away. But, Action News has not heard any discouraging words from that assembly of insiders.

They say they'll be seeking public input. The reaction today from residents along 422 was negative.

"I think it's an awful idea. I drive that road every day, to and from Philadelphia. There's so much congestion right now and a toll road would be worse," said Cindy Skrocki of Royersford.

"I can't afford it. I'm unemployed, so I can't afford the tolls," said Richard Dix of Limerick.

The price tag for the regional rail line extension has been estimated at roughly $500 million.

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