Traffic ahead. Maybe bumpy, too.

Traffic ahead. Maybe bumpy, too.

NORRISTOWN PA – Montgomery County planners continue to move ahead on a proposal to institute tolls on U.S. Route 422 from Valley Forge to Douglassville, as a way to pay for additional local commuter rail service and reduce traffic bottlenecks on the east-west highway.

One of the groups working with the county, the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association, has scheduled two June meetings for further public discussion of the project.

The first is set for June 23 (2009; Tuesday) from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Pottstown Middle School, 600 N. Franklin St., Pottstown PA; the second for the following day, June 24 (2009; Wednesday), also from 6:30-9 p.m. at Spring-Ford High School, 350 S. Lewis Rd., Royersford PA.

News reports said county commissioners agreed Thursday (April 16, 2009) to give the county Planning Commission about 3 percent of the $625,000 cost of an 18-month study to determine the project’s feasibility.

The $15,833 payment represents Montgomery County’s share of the expense. Other portions are being paid by the TriCounty Chamber of Commerce, $2,500; the CEO Council for Growth of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, $12,500; and Berks and Chester counties. State and federal government funds are covering the rest.

Planning Commission Assistant Director Leo Bagley says the study tentatively would:

  • Determine how tolls might be collected, and how much revenue could be earned;
  • Identify needed highway improvements, and how traffic could be diverted off 422;
  • Learn how much more money would be needed to improve 422 as a toll road and also extend the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority ( SEPTA) R6 commuter rail service from Norristown west to outer suburbs like Phoenixville, Pottstown and Wyomissing;
  • Get the public involved in the process; and
  • Develop a rail service operating plan.

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Montgomery County planners think non-drivers haven't been adequately considered in planning for Sanatoga Springs.

Montgomery County officials think non-drivers haven't been adequately considered in planning for Sanatoga Springs.

LIMERICK PA – Cars, cars, and more cars. Slow-moving traffic. Bottle-necks and tie-ups. There’s been a lot of talk so far, in both Limerick and Lower Pottsgrove (PA) townships, about the role of automobiles in commercial developments proposed near the Sanatoga interchange of U.S. Route 422. The discussion is so car-centric, in fact, that Montgomery County planners think an important audience is being overlooked.

People who don’t drive.

County planners foresee a heightened need for public transportation and safe sidewalks on what is expected during the next few years to be exceedingly busy acreage near the townships’ dividing line on the south side of 422. The county Planning Commission has formally recommended both transit and pedestrians be given greater attention there.

The Philadelphia Premium Outlets opened on 78 acres parallel to 422, along Lightcap Road, just 14 months ago. An additional 71-acre shopping center proposed to be built nearby, called Sanatoga Springs, will be the subject of a public hearing Jan. 22 (2009; Thursday) at 7 p.m. in the Limerick municipal building, 646 W. Ridge Pike.

King of Prussia-based developer O’Neill Properties Group has grand plans for Sanatoga Springs. Its project of six buildings with mixed uses currently includes one “big-box” store, a gas station, and several pad sites for businesses like banks and restaurants. Local speculation reported Wednesday (Jan. 14, 2009) in The (Pottstown PA) Mercury newspaper puts national wholesaler Costco in the box as the center’s anchor tenant, surrounded by 651 parking spaces.

Drawings for Sanatoga Springs, submitted to the county for review, lack any mention of public transit. They also fail to show where a bus shelter and drop-off area would be located, according to commission observations carried in a Dec. 3 (2008) letter to Limerick Township Manager Daniel Kerr. Letter author Barry Jeffries, a senior design planner with the commission, considers the omission a problem.

“The proposed development will generate a high number of non-skilled labor jobs,” and a significant portion of that labor pool is likely to travel to and from them using public transit, Jeffries wrote. He recommended Limerick and O’Neill coordinate with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to ensure it offers bus service at Sanatoga Springs, and to “consider where and how public transportation facilities will be accommodated” on-site.

O’Neill’s plans also fail to indicate sidewalks along Lightcap Road, as required under Limerick’s subdivision and land development code. Jeffries wrote the commission will “strongly support the provision of sidewalks and pedestrian improvements” that connect Sanatoga Springs to existing walkways at the outlets. Sidewalk installation will ensure “safe pedestrian movements” of workers and shoppers alike, he noted.

It remains to be seen which, if any, of Jeffries’ stated concerns are on the minds of Limerick residents who participate in next week’s hearing. The meeting is open to the public.

Photo from Clipart.com

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