422: Could The Highway's Long and Winding Road Lead to Tolls?

Although U.S. Route 422's path changed many times over the last 84 years, the road's future is uncertain.

Unique, missing, moved, widened, opened, changed, removed, extended, displaced, installed, cancelled, quiet and jumping.

That's just a sampling of words PAhighways.com uses to describe Benjamin Franklin Highway's evolution.

In a nearly 3,000-word chronicle, the site—which states it is not affiliated with local or state agencies including the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation—details changes made to the road since its Reading and Philadelphia segment was made official in 1927.

"In 1964, the expressway from Penn Avenue to I-176 opened and removed the US 422 designation from Penn Avenue, Penn Street, Perkiomen Avenue, and Mineral Spring Road," the site states. "The following year construction began on two new expressway alignments from the Chester County line to the Sanatoga interchange as well as from Trooper Road to US 202. In 1966, construction began from east of Douglassville to the Chester County line while the designation moved to Germantown Pike between Collegeville and Sandy Hill Road."

Over the decades, many more changes were made to the road while its traffic increased through Montgomery, Berks and other local counties.

Today, U.S. Route 422 is often a source of traffic jams. 

To help alleviate the congestion, plans to extend commuter rail service from Philadelphia into Berks County were discussed. But the roughly $370 million proposal remains unpopular among motorists and taxpayers who say it would be impractical and expensive.

Meanwhile, U.S. Route 422 and some of its bridges need to be repaired and the state doesn't have adequate funds to correct the road woes. 

"There's not enough (PennDOT) money to fix 422," Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, who is also a member of the Delaware Valley Regional Plannin Commission said last month at a forum to collect public input on tolling the road. "Doing nothing is not an option that I choose."

The forum was hosted by state representatives Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery County; Marcy Toepel, R-Montgomery County; Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery County and Warren Kampf, R-Chester and Montgomery counties.

The four legislators oppose tolling the roadway.

Vereb said he can't imagine a "local road" being tolled. 

"I think what all of us are concerned about ... the traffic is almost unbearable as it is going in toward Philadelphia," Vereb said.

"It's a dangerous road. It's a four-lane main street ... It has people pretty upset," he said.

The latest: "Six people were injured in a six-vehicle crash that shut down a portion of Route 422 in West Reading for nearly an hour Saturday," ReadingEagle.com reported on Sunday. 

What's next: State and local officials are expected to continue talks on the issue, however, there are no official proposals to toll U.S. Route 422.

Motorists on the road should be prepared for delays.

Related Topics: 422 Tolling and Route 422


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