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Stop the Toll Trolls on 422

The DVRPA has a pie-in-the-sky plan of happy bridges and roads and choo-choo trains running up and down 422, but I just can't get past the Toll Trolls.

The Montgomery County Commissioners meeting Wednesday, June 8, had a presentation from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPA) to address the significant issue of traffic on the the US 422 corridor.

The DVRPA is proposing a series of four toll collection-thingies-in-the-air ("Toll Trolls") from near Valley Forge to outside Pottstown. They would like to charge motorists about $2.65 each way for the trip.

Surprisingly, it appears the lower end of 422, where it intersects with both 202 and 76 will not be as affected because the first Toll Troll will be stationed around the Betzwood bridge and will collect 50 cents from drivers.

A representative from the Chamber of Commerce also got up and spoke in favor of looking further at this study.

The DVRPA has a pie-in-the-sky plan of happy bridges and roads and choo-choo trains running up and down 422. When challenged for an actual time line, it was sky-in-the-pie time. 

These people are working against the interests of those who live in this part of the region. They are not listing to the folks who live here.

This is not New Jersey where they have parkways and quarters. The toll mechanism for this plan is a combination of EZPass and Big Brother. If you have EZPass, you will get racked up every time you drive by the Toll Trolls.

If you don’t have EZPass, make sure you are smiling while driving because the Toll Trolls are going to be taking pictures of you so that you can get a toll slip in the mail. Yeah, they are actually trying to sell this idea as a good one! 

I could write a full article on the basic civil rights involved in the government tracking your movements—either by EZPass or camera—but why rant? I am glad I did not hear the initials TSA during the presentation.

I don’t know if these guys did an analysis of this part of the brainstorm or not, but think about the time and motion and cost involved here that is going to benefit no one. 

OK, so if I don’t have EZPass, the Toll Troll will take a digital picture of me or my license plate. A matching program will print out a slip that someone is going to have to place in an envelope and take to the post office (so that is the paper for the invoices, human motion and postage) that will arrive at my house. I will have to write a check and drop it back in the mail—don’t forget the postage to return the thing. So the 50-cent toll (tax) on my trip home from King of Prussia has been swamped by the costs to collect the toll!

What was even funnier was that the DVRPA representative actually said they don’t expect 15 percent of the tolls to be collected. So, if you have EZPass, you would actually be subsidizing the scofflaws.

Where is Yossarian when you need him?

In 2010, a state representative who ran on the idea of putting tolls on 422 was stomped at the polls. I was working the polls that day for Joe Sestak. The state representative race became the marquee race. Voters took great joy in removing this former public servant. It wasn’t even close.

It is no secret that the Valley Forge Corporate Center has trouble getting tenants. The center is located just over the Betzwood Bridge in Lower Providence (LP). LP is doing everything it can to help this business park. The Toll Trolls of DVRPA would be working directly counter to these efforts.

These tolls will put the businesses springing up along the corridor at risk. The shopping centers at either end of 422 (extending up into Reading) will be placed at another disadvantage. People will be less likely to go to malls in King of Prussia or the outlets in Limerick or Reading if they have to pay over $5 round trip to get there.

The only other toll road in the area is the Turnpike. If tolls are the only way to go for expansion—why didn’t the parallel Route 309 or Route 100 get toll plazas with their redesigns? Why isn't 76 or 202 honored in the same way?

A toll along 422 creates a huge disadvantage to any town inside the corridor. Just getting from place to place locally we will be hampering ourselves because the side roads will be flooded with local traffic that would have used 422, but has been priced out of using the road.

It is a good thing that Commissioner Joe Hoeffel isn’t running in this neck of the woods anymore. While pushing this idea hard at the commissioners’ meeting, he may have just turned himself into political kryptonite. 

This is a devastating idea. He is from the eastern part of the county, and businesses in that part of the region would stand to benefit from western Montco’s new disadvantage. 

Any local candidate standing within a mile of Joe Hoeffel from this section of the county would be subject to an attack from the GOP. That attack would come in the form of guilt by association. The state rep who went down last year was a Democrat. Hoeffel is a Democrat. The GOP ads can tag any Democrat not standing up to Hoeffel loudly as supporting him in this.

A number of years ago, people stood on the banks of the Schuylkill River screaming for a bridge when a developer was allowed to place really nice condos on the waterfront. As I recall, part of that deal was a pedestrian bridge across the Schuylkill where the old Iron Betzwood Bridge once stood. It just feels like déjà vu when the DVRPA presents more rainbow bridges and unicorns. I still haven’t seen the ones from the last go-around. Now they want to charge everyone in the region to get anywhere?

Yes, it is brutal to look at the back-end of the St. Gabe’s curve from either direction during any rush hour. Putting Toll Trolls on this road would only add insult to injury.

Lin June 09, 2011 at 04:41 PM
If there were any viable alternative to driving on 422, the Tolls would steer people toward that alternative. Unfortunately, unless you have an hour to spend on a bus BEFORE getting to a train and spending another hour and a half on the train to arrive in Center City Philadelphia - then you must take 422. Just to get to the train. So, daily commuters should be expected to pay upwards of a $100 a month? Because no alternative is offered? If the toll fund the alternative - a train or trolley or whathaveyou, then - once that train or trolley starts accepting passengers - can I have a refund on the ticket price?
Leann Pettit June 09, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Communities and families are already struggling with their regular day-to-day bills. People in this area rely on 422 to get to jobs, I rely on it so I can visit my parents, and some of the best outlet shopping in the area is off Rte. 422 (maybe I'm biased because I grew up in Reading?). While I agree that a train, a regional rail extension, is needed to extend to Reading, which has been hit hard by the down turn in the economy, to help bring people out to jobs in Philly and the Philly suburbs, and help alleviate traffic on 422, tolling is not the answer. Tolling 422 is just going to hurt the side roads around 422. People are already using Rte. 724 to avoid the traffic on 422, so much so that this small two lane road is beginning to get back up in some areas. In Whitpain Township (Blue Bell), drivers speed through local neighborhoods to avoid traffic on Rte. 202, putting local families and children in danger as rush hour drivers do 50 or 60 mph down a local, neighborhood road. Do we really want more drivers on local, neighborhood roads? More families and children in danger?
Leann Pettit June 09, 2011 at 07:18 PM
About a year ago there was a house for sale on Main Street in Royersford (the upper end of Main Street, closer to the Wawa and 422 on and off ramps). Main Street has become a cut through for drivers avoiding 422 traffic and detouring through Royersford and Spring City to get to Rte. 724 and do 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. The family selling the house couldn't find a non-commercial buyer because of the traffic along Main Street. Children can't play in the front yard of the homes along Main St. because of traffic, cigarette butts, among other trash is chucked into yards, etc. because people are already avoiding 422. The community at large needs to stand up in protest against tolling 422. Its not safe for our families, its not good for home and property values and its not what our community needs now in this economy or ever.
Brett Wells June 09, 2011 at 07:31 PM
If this happens, Ridge Pike will become the county's biggest parking lot.
James Myers (Editor) June 10, 2011 at 04:16 AM
Freed, I appreciate your comment and I do want the respect of the community that I serve, but I don't think I'll get that by "policing" anyone's opinions. This is an opinion piece by a political columnist, not a news story. I police all my content for obscenity, libel, incorrect information and outright lies, but I won't censor anyone's opinion, regardless of its "quality." I've said it in this forum before: If you think Joe or anyone who writes on Norristown Patch has something wrong, is treating someone unfairly or is just plain full of it – call them on it. This is a space for debate and discourse and I encourage everyone to use it. I'm glad you did and I hope you continue to.
concerned taxpayer June 10, 2011 at 09:07 PM
It's a disgrace that this could even be considered. This is all local traffic and the general population of this area are very middle class people who have been hit hard during these rough economic times. What in heavens name are you trying to do. People are already curbing their travel plans for the summer. So now what, punish us for daring to step foot out of our homes. This is so preposterous that it sounds like a joke.
Allen Hare June 11, 2011 at 04:36 AM
these "gentlemen or women" have too much time on their hands, and very little brains in their heads. Time to put them out to pasture...................LET THE VOTES BEGIN, WHILE WE STILL HAVE AMERICA.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro June 12, 2011 at 01:10 AM
the scary thing is that Jim Matthews' vote was the one that stopped this from going forward to the state. Joe Hoeffel thinks doing something like this is Leadership.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro June 12, 2011 at 01:11 AM
hey it was 13% in May's election. let's get more people involved !

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