The US 422, Sec 29M Reconstruction (West Shore Bypass) project consists of a 5-mile corridor of US 422 in the City of Reading, West Reading Borough, Wyomissing Borough, Cumru Township, and Exeter Township, Berks County. Part of the National Highway System, the bypass was constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s and provides an important link in the regional transportation network connecting to other key transportation arteries including US 222, I-176, and PA Route 12. The purpose of the project is to upgrade the current facility to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for both regional and local connections in the area by improving safety, reducing future congestion and bringing the roadway and structures up to current design standards with no or minimal design exceptions.
Three project needs have been identified; Safety, Congestion, and Mobility.
1) Safety along the US 422 Corridor
There are three primary contributors to the safety needs of the project. These are high crash rates, design and structural deficiencies, and bicycle and pedestrian movement deficiencies.
High Crash Rates
As identified in the Crash Analysis Report for the US 422 West Shore Bypass Reconstruction Study, June 2014, the calculated crash rate for the project area corridor exceeded the statewide average for this type of roadway. A total of 747 crashes were reported along the corridor and the associated interchanges with 557 crashes occurring on the mainline. The mainline crash rate exceeds the statewide crash rate for this type of roadway by over 300% (0.87 vs. 0.28 crashes/million vehicle miles/day). Congestion is one of the contributing factors to the high crash rates in the corridor. Additional factors include:
- Deficient acceleration and deceleration lane lengths at the Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange, Lancaster Avenue, and I-176 Interchanges
- Left lane entrance/exit ramps at Lancaster Avenue Interchange (instead of the typical right side ramps)
- Short weave distance between Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange and Lancaster Avenue Interchanges which do not meet current design standards
- Queuing and maneuvering between Lancaster Avenue Interchange and PA Route 10 due to traffic signals
Design and Structural Deficiencies
Much of the infrastructure within the project corridor is approaching the end of its service life. As show in table below, there are 5 bridges currently considered to be structurally deficient and in need of repair or replacement. The median throughout the corridor is just 4 feet and guiderail provides the median barrier between Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange and Lancaster Avenue, instead of a concrete barrier. The shoulders throughout most of the corridor are only 4 to 8 feet wide. The horizontal S curve on US 422 between I-176 and Lancaster Avenue provides substandard sight distance for the posted speed limit of the roadway. Many of the side slopes along the corridor are undermined. The poor pavement conditions of the corridor, which included numerous spalled joints and potholes, were only temporarily improved in 2012 with the placement of a bituminous overlay of the over 50 year old concrete base pavement.
The narrow median and shoulder widths throughout most of the corridor are contributing factors to fixed object crashes that make up a considerable amount of the crashes on the US 422 mainline. The inadequate sight distance between I-176 and Lancaster Avenue is also a contributing factor to crashes through this section. These narrow shoulders and undermined side slopes also do not allow for safe pull-off areas for motorists that are needed when there is a mechanical breakdown, crash, or vehicle damage often caused by the poor pavement conditions. As the bituminous overlay wears the spalled joints and potholes will begin to reappear which can lead to vehicle damage and crashes from vehicles going out of control and drivers making abrupt movements to avoid the damaged pavement.
|Thun Recreational Trail Bridge||Structurally Deficient Substructure|
|Lancaster Ave. / Bingaman St. (422 WB)||Structurally Deficient Deck|
|Lancaster Ave. / Bingaman St. (422 EB)||Structurally Deficient Deck|
|Brentwood Drive||Structurally Deficient Deck|
|Schuylkill River Crossing 1||Structurally Deficient Substructure|
|US Route 422 West Shore Bypass Reconstruction Study|
Bicycle and Pedestrian Movement Deficiencies
The Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange and Lancaster Avenue Interchanges have safety concerns associated with pedestrian and bicycle movements. The Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange will need to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists traversing through the interchange between Reading and West Reading. Pedestrian and bicycle use of the area is expected to increase with the construction of the planned trail system between the interchange and Schuylkill River. The Lancaster Avenue Interchange will also need to accommodate pedestrian crossings to address pedestrian and bicycle movement through that area.
2) Congestion along US 422
There are two primary contributors to the Congestion need of the project; Deficient Level of Service and Increased Traffic Volumes.
Deficient Level of Service (LOS)
As identified in the Traffic Summary Report for the U.S. 0422 West Shore Bypass Reconstruction Study dated May 2014, the mainline corridor currently operates at acceptable levels of service with the exception of the segment between the Warren Street Bypass and Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange which currently operates at a LOS E during peak hours. By the year 2034, No-Build condition’s level of service are projected to decline throughout the corridor with some movements of the section previously mentioned, operating at LOS F and the Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange to Lancaster Avenue section developing LOS E conditions. For this type of roadway setting, a LOS D or better is considered the desirable LOS.
Increased Traffic Volumes
Total traffic growth compounded over a twenty year period is expected to increase by 17%, adding additional traffic to the corridor and contributing to the congestion issues. Additional factors causing congestion within the corridor include the deficient acceleration/deceleration lane lengths, the weave condition created by the left lane entrance/exit ramps at the Lancaster Avenue Interchange and the queuing at the traffic signals at the Lancaster Avenue Interchange.
3) Regional Mobility
The US 422 West Shore Bypass is part of the National Highway System and a vital transportation link in the Reading area. It provides direct eastern connections to Pottstown and King of Prussia, as well as to Philadelphia via I-76, and direct western connections to Lebanon and Hershey, as well as Harrisburg via US 322. Connections to Allentown and Bethlehem to the east and Lancaster to the southwest via US 222 is provided at the US 222/US 422 interchange at the western terminus of the project. The interchange with I-176 provides connection to the PA Turnpike Interchange at Morgantown. The project area is also serviced by the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority (BARTA) of which one bus route utilizes the West Shore Bypass as part of their route.
The delays experienced by the traffic, including commercial traffic and public transportation, as a result of the congestion experienced in the project area, negatively affects the continuity of this transportation corridor.
As a component of the National Highway System US 422 should have minimum vertical clearances meeting AASHTO standards approved by FHWA, which is 16.0 feet for freeway and aerial systems and 14.5 for other roads. PennDOT requires an additional 6 inches of vertical clearance to accommodate future pavement overlay on state highways. FHWA requires structures crossing railroads to meet the affected railroad company’s normal vertical clearance standards, which the railroad has reported to be 23.0 feet. Table 2 presents the project area structures with below standard vertical clearance.
|Structure||Vertical Clearance (feet)|
|N. Wyomissing Blvd. (over 422)||16.4||16.5|
|Buttonwood St. (over 422)||13.7||16.5|
|Penn Street/Penn Avenue Interchange (over 422)||16.4||16.5|
|422 over Franklin Street||13.4||14.5|
|Lancaster Ave. / Bingaman St. (422 WB)||13.1||16.5|
|Lancaster Ave. / Bingaman St. (422 EB)||16.4||16.5|
|422 over Norfolk Southern Railroad||22.4||23.0|
|* Required vertical clearances listed for highways is the PennDOT standard, for railroads is the railroad’s standard.|
Delays experienced during construction would also negatively affect the continuity of this transportation corridor. Construction phasing will need to minimize reductions in level of service along the project corridor to avoid/minimize impacts on regional mobility.