Penndot Details Plan For Widening Route 202 North Of Norristown The State May Need To Acquire Parts Of 256 Properties In The Nine Miles To Route 309.

Posted: June 05, 1998

Only two months ago, Irene Fridling and her husband moved from Connecticut and bought a new home along Route 202 in Lower Gwynedd Township. It was the perfect one, too, until they recently heard of a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plan to widen the highway.

Last night, during an open house on the widening plan, Fridling learned her shrubbery and yard could be encroached upon by five lanes of traffic and a bike path.

``We had no idea,'' she said as she filled out a comment card to PennDot. ``I hope we don't have to move. I really like the house and the neighbors.''

Fridling was one of about 250 people who attended the open house at Stony Creek Elementary School in Blue Bell to view aerial photographs of the highway and the impacts of widening. It was the first time the public had a chance to see PennDot's recommendation to selectively widen the highway to five lanes in some areas and four near historical properties.

The project will address the 8.8-mile stretch of Route 202 from Johnson Highway in Norristown to Route 309 in Montgomeryville, which has become a congested highway for five municipalities. PennDot has spent seven years studying options for the roadway.

A second proposal, the ``full-widening'' plan, which would widen Route 202 to a 70-foot-wide, five-lane roadway with two through lanes and a bike lane in each direction, also was displayed for the public.

Under the selective widening project, Route 202 would be widened south of Swede Road with three through-lanes (two northbound and one southbound), bike lanes in each direction, and a center left-turn lane from Johnson Highway to Swede Road. The highway north of Swede Road to Route 309 would have two through-lanes in each direction and a center left-turn lane in non-sensitive areas.

Widening within the Washington Square historic district would be reduced to 55 feet by routing the southbound bike lane over Dekalb Boulevard, while northbound Route 202 would have a smaller, five-foot bike lane.

Project Manager Randy Wanger said the department was leaning toward selective widening because it met traffic needs by the year 2018 while affecting fewer properties than the full-widening plan.

``PennDot's mind may be made up, but the final decision will come from the Federal Highway Administration,'' Wanger said. ``They will review all of the comments on the draft environmental-impact study here, and they'll review all the comments on the final study too. . . .''

As some East Norriton residents crowded around a map of their township, Mary Martinelli said she was concerned for bicyclists who would use the proposed bike lane near her driveway along Route 202.

Other residents asked questions about whether or not they would still have a home after the widening plan. Although the department spares some properties with selective widening, about 14 properties could fall in the department's right-of-way during the project, Wanger said. About 256 properties would need to be partially acquired by the department, while eight others would be affected.

A third, ``no action'' alternative also is included in the environmental study that is scheduled for public display sometime this summer. A public hearing on the proposals is anticipated for this fall, and a final decision from the Federal Highway Administration will not come until 1999. Final design might not be until early 2000.

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