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.”

The Sanatoga interchange at U.S. Route 422, as seen from overhead in a Google Maps satellite image.

The Sanatoga interchange at U.S. Route 422.

SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove wants help in looking at the bigger picture that is the Sanatoga interchange of U.S. Route 422, township Manager Rodney Hawthorne said Wednesday (May 13, 2009). That’s why the township Board of Commissioners is looking for an outside consultant to potentially assist with legal and planning issues surrounding interchange development.

Board members gathered Tuesday afternoon (May 12, 2009) in the township municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd., to hear presentations from two Philadelphia area firms that could provide those kinds of services. No decisions were made on hiring either, and few costs were discussed, Hawthorne reported. “It was more to find out what they might do for us,” he said.

Township resident Patrick “P.J.” McGill of Rivendell Lane, in an e-mail received Wednesday by The Post, said he, reporter Michael Hays of WhatsThe422.com, and candidates running for election to the board were the few audience members present. “What would one expect at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday?,” wrote McGill, who earlier had been critical of when the meeting had been scheduled.

Lower Pottsgrove and neighboring Limerick (PA) Township, both of which have interests in and control portions of land surrounding the interchange, are attempting to cooperate on handling traffic, development, sewage and waste water, and zoning on both sides of their mutual border.

Already announced plans for retail and residential projects on Limerick’s side of the interchange, and projects known to be coming to Lower Pottsgrove’s side, likely will require an investment of tens of millions of dollars in highway and infrastructure improvements at the 422 exit. Neither township alone can afford those costs, and both in the past have expressed their concern about the area’s future if they fail to regulate its growth.

Hawthorne estimated Lower Pottsgrove could have an agreement on working with the Limerick Township Board of Supervisors ready by its commissioners’ May 21 (2009; Thursday) meeting. A similar resolution would be considered by Limerick supervisors at a future meeting, he added.

Coincidentally, during a Limerick Township primary election candidates’ forum Wednesday – from which WhatsThe422.com reported live via Twitter – Limerick’s efforts to obtain federal economic stimulus funding for interchange highway work was among the topics of discussion.

Satellite map from Google Maps

Editor’s note: Information in a portion of this story resulted from tweets received at The Limerick Post’s Twitter account. Feel free to follow us on Twitter @jzlomek.

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.