A visitor to Tuesday's meeting on Route 422 inspects regional maps.

A visitor to Tuesday's meeting on Route 422 inspects regional maps.

POTTSTOWN PA – About 50,000 vehicles travel past Limerick (PA) Township on U.S. Route 422 each day, a traffic load 28 percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to regional statistics. If that increase doesn’t worry you, transportation consultant Joe Bucovetsky thinks, maybe you’re among the few lucky enough to walk to work.

Jerry Coyne of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission talked about progress made so far on the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan .

Jerry Coyne of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission talked about progress made so far on the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan.

But even for those whose commute consists of just a trek around the block, Bucovetsky said, the jump in traffic mirrors “a heck of a lot of development in just 10 years” which affects local lifestyles, often for the worse. If ignored, he cautioned Tuesday night (June 23, 2009), the long lines of cars snaking their way along 422 during rush hours can only get longer.

Buckovetsky, one of several associates with the engineering firm of McComick Taylor, and several other representatives of local and county government agencies, contended during a meeting in Pottstown Middle School that while doing nothing about congestion on 422 is an option, it probably isn’t the best one.

What’s better? Getting the public’s answer to that question was the whole purpose of the meeting. Comments and complaints heard this week, in addition to those aired at meetings in February, all are helping to shape final recommendations for what is being labeled by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission as the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan, which could be released late this year.

The crowd faced by engineer Joe Bucovetsky was small but vocal.

The crowd faced by engineer Joe Bucovetsky was small but vocal.

Montgomery County (PA) Assistant Planning Director Leo Bagley answered audience questions about extending rail service.

Montgomery County (PA) Assistant Planning Director Leo Bagley answered audience questions on rail service.

Planners already know that, of 10 different strategies they might use to solve traffic woes on 422, members of the public like two best: fixing the road and its interchanges to help manage the load, and extending passenger train service west from Norristown. The price tags for those two items: roughly $600 million and $500 million, respectively.

Attendance at the Pottstown gathering was relatively light, but vocal. Many applauded and cheered when one audience member railed against the notion of imposing tolls on the four-lane highway to pay for road improvements and mass transit.

They seemed to be more accepting, however, of proposed land use changes and other regulations that would concentrate growth in the 25-mile corridor, stretching from King of Prussia to Reading, in specific areas and reduce sprawl. “A backward-looking town or region won’t attract economic development,” said Pottstown resident Bonnie Heath. “We’ve got to keep working on this process.”

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