|Originally Published in the Doylestown Patriot, November 2, 2006
Resistance Continues on Rt. 202 Construction PlanAt last week's Committe for Alternative Route 202 Plan meeting, chair Jack A. Artale expressed aggravation with PennDOT's "watering down" of the project.
By Sean Kerrigan
“This is an area of Central Bucks that is growing rapidly and PennDOT is short changing us,” Artale said.
Artale’s criticisms center around what he believes to be an unnecessary watering down of the project from the original proposed bypass to PennDOT’s new plan for a parkway.
“PennDOT’s parkway concept is a degraded form of a modern highway,” Artale wrote in a column in the Intelligencer last month. “Its substandard design is compromised of narrow lanes and shoulders, low design speed and the limitation of only two lanes for most of its length.”
“A policy was developed by an association of all 50 states. They agreed to have a national standard [for highway construction],” Artail said. “If you don’t follow this standard the federal government won’t give you any aid for the construction of the road because it doesn’t meet standards.”
The proposed parkway design provides 11 feet width for travel lanes and 5 feet width for shoulders, but the federal government standards require 12 feet width for travel lanes and 8 feet for shoulders.
Artale who has access to traffic projections created by the independent Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, claims traffic will not be significantly alleviated in the long run.
“[According to the commissions projections,] by the year 2020 there will be as much traffic on the four lane construction as on the two lane.”
George Niblock is Chair of the Bucks County Economic Development Commission.
According to Niblock, the projected cost of the bypass was estimated at $465 million, of which 80 percent would be paid by the federal government leaving the state with an obligation to pay $93 million. The cost of the proposed parkway is now totaling $200 million.
“In addition to the $200 million to construct the parkway, the state must repay $83 million to the federal government because PennDOT has selected a roadway that the Federal Housing Administration determined… would not solve the congestion problems on existing route 202,” Niblock said.
Artale theorizes Buckingham is partially to blame since the town often opposes development and contributes heavily to Governor Rendell’s campaign.
Artale admits that highway construction does tend to lead to quick and undesirable development but insist this is not valid cause for slowing construction.
“Don’t put the blame on the highway, put the blame on towns that give into the temptation to upzone,” he said.
“[PenDOT] is arrogant. They aren’t beholden to anyone except the governor,” Artale said. “‘Take it or leave it’, that’s they’re response.”
“So much of this is hidden from view,” he said. “PennDOT is not candid.”
Artale makes several suggestions to improve both road safety and to help alleviate the cost to the state.
“The design criteria indicate travel lanes of 12 feet width and shoulders of 8 feet. To save on cost, bridge overpasses could have shoulders of a reduced width,” Artail said. “Following highway standards, a design speed of 40 mph is unjustified. The original four-lane bypass was to have a design speed of 65 mph.”
Artale also suggest building the road in such a way as to create room for adding additional lanes with a concrete barrier for safety when more funds become available and alleviating local traffic by allowing more access points along the road.