It was 3:15, and I was queued up behind a few other cars on the cloverleaf atop 611, waiting for Section 700 to open. Those of us with convertibles all had our tops down under the unusually balmy December sunshine. Slowly, more cars and even a pack of motorcycles pulled up, ready to sample what Penndot had wrought.
After a good half-hour of waiting, crews came along to remove the Road Closed barricades. Horns were honked and yahoos were shouted as we started on our way. I looked to be the 14th vehicle in line.
And wouldn't you know it? As we approached the first signaled intersection—with Lower State Road—we were 'treated' to a red light.
But after that it was fairly smooth sailing. And literally so as the road is absent any debris or even the tiniest piece of gravel, though that won't be true for very long.
There is definitely an eerie quality to the road in some spots. It's like Dr. Frink took his Debigulator Ray to a turnpike and dropped it in our backyards. It's very odd being on a road that's just one lane in each direction, but has several under and overpasses and has no driveways. It almost feels like there's something wrong.
There are some scenic views, the most notable perhaps being a new way to see the cows, barns, and dairy at Delaware Valley College as you cross over Almshouse Road. It's amazing the change that 20 or so feet of elevation gives to something you've seen hundreds of times before.
But honestly, the view you get the most is houses. Specifically, you see the backs of developments, often just roofs peeking over treetops. With so little else to distract you, the housing boom over the decades in our area is on display in a much more prominent way than ever before. There's something about seeing development after development, but not being able to turn into them, that makes them stand out all the more.
It's also a very narrow-feeling road. I'm not certain if it really is more narrow than others, or a trick of the eye, purposefully incorporated to discourage going much over the posted 40 mph.
In any case, the lack of a car's width shoulder and the wooden fences certainly don't do anything to make the road feel wide, and it feels like driving through a really thin park as you see bikers and runners taking advantage of the trail that parallels 202's new route. If the foliage in the handful of traffic islands is spruced up come spring, the road will take on a more pleasing ambience.
As you approach Horsham Road, it widens to a four-lane road (in other words, what most of the driving public wanted the entire length to be), and by crossing over 309, it's a superlative way to get from there to where 'old 202' veered off by Welsh Road towards Montgomery Mall and became Upper State at the 309 intersection. I'd estimate that's the best time savings the Parkway offers.
The travel back saw that we'd already had our first accident related to the Parkway. Upon crossing at Limekiln Pike there were two cars to the side, one with side airbags deployed. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd wager the new traffic pattern caught someone on Limekiln off guard.
My initial feeling is that if you're headed from Doylestown Borough to Montgomery Mall, it's likely not better or worse than Upper State Road (via 'old 202' and S. Shady Retreat). If you're taking 202 past Welsh Road, however, it's definitely the better route.