The toll booth at West Chester Pike and Garrett Rd. about 1905. Toll roads generally were in poor condition and demand for state takeover of these roads began in the late 1890's. By the early 1900's car drivers were demanding it.
Note. As hard as it is to imagine today roads such as Chester Pike and West Chester Pike were toll roads 100 years ago. Chester Pike was "freed" in June of 1921. Cost which the county and state paid was 100 of thousand of dollars.
Below the start
Delaware County Toll Roads
The first action taken in court looking toward the freeing of Delaware County roads from toll was taken on Saturday when a hearing was had upon the petition presented to the Court, recently to have a jury of view appointed to condemn the Philadelphia and West Chester Pike and assess the damages. No appointment was made on Saturday, however, nor was a date fixed when appointment will be either made or refused.
The petition was presented by twenty-five residents of the county and is backed by the real estate interests of the townships through which the turnpike passes and by others who feel that it would be for the best interests of the county to have tolls abolished. The petition was represented by V. Gilpin Robinson, who informed the Court that the section of the county traversed by the West Chester Pike is growing rapidly and that the road is as much travelled as some of the Philadelphia streets. He declared that the collection of tolls has the effect of a deterrent upon the growth of the county and he asked that a jury of view be appointed.
Isaac E. Johnson, county solicitor, said that he had heard of the project to have the Court appoint a jury to condemn the road, but the County Commissioners and himself had not taken the matter seriously until they were given formal notice of the action to be called before the court. He said that he had not had time to prepare an answer for the county and asked for a delay which would give him time to prepare an answer, as it is probable that the county may have to pay the bill if the road be condemned and damages awarded the company.
W. I. Schaffer, representing the turnpike company, raised the question of security being furnished to the company. He said that he has serious doubts of the legality of the method which has been taken by the petitioners to have the road condemned. The law provides, he declared, that if the court appoints a jury and this jury reports favorable to the freeing of the road tolls, then the report being confirmed by the court, collection of tolls stops at once. He said that the case will without doubt, go to the Supreme Court and if this court should, at the end of a year or two rears, reverse the lower court and declare the proceeding illegal, then the company will have lost its road and be in a bad way. He declared that the value of the West Chester Pike is at least $100,000, and said that it is his opinion that the question he raised must be fought out at the very beginning of the matter. He said that the court is at this time familiar with the toll road question from the fact that the Bucks County cases looking toward the freeing of the Doylestown and Danborough and Plumsteadville Turnpikes from tolls were tried in this county, that the eyes of every county in the State having toll roads are turned upon this county awaiting the final disposition of these cases, which are really test cases for the entire state.
Judge Johnson said that Mr. Schaffer’s point in regard to security was well raised, as he, too, is of the opinion that it must be fought out at the very opening of the case; but he said that it could not be settled on Saturday and must be taken up later. He then gave the county time to file the answer to the petition as Solicitor Johnson had asked.