Cumberland Times-News

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June 19, 2013

Garrett County commissioners approves transportation plan

OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners approved the county planning commission’s recommended priority list for nine projects, one of which is new, to the State of Maryland Consolidated Transportation 2014 Plan. The planning commission recommended that a new project, state Route 135/Sand Flat Road intersection, be added to the list for safety reasons, according to John Nelson, director of planning and land development.

“The planning commission noted a number of accidents at that intersection recently, many which resulted in serious injuries and/or fatalities,” said Nelson at Tuesday’s commission meeting. “The problem seems to be one of sight distance, speed.”

The planning commission asked that the intersection be reviewed by experts with the Traffic Safety Engineering Division of the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The remainder of the priority list is similar to last year’s list. On the list again is the U.S. Route 219 North project (North/South corridor) from Interstate 68 to Pennsylvania, which is a No. 1 priority and is part of the state’s CTP. The state doesn’t have most of the funding for the project because it is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, according to Nelson.

“The problem still lies with the Pennsylvania (line) to Meyersdale section. Pennsylvania argues they don’t have the funding in place for that section,” said County Commissioner Jim Raley.

A letter from Gov. Martin O’Malley agrees to allocate all the Appalachian Regional Commission funds for that project to be complete in Maryland but the project is being held back because of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation planning initiatives, according to Nelson.  

The section of the North/South corridor from Somerset to Meyersdale, Pa., is getting ready to go out to bid, according to Raley. The alignment of the section from Pennsylvania to Maryland to where it comes into I-68 still has to be determined by the Maryland impact study, according to Nelson.  

The second project on the list is the Oakland bypass, which would relocate U.S. 219 from north of Oakland to state Route 135 (2.4 miles). Elected officials and residents ex-pressed concerns about the bypass during a Maryland Department of Transportation tour last year.

Even though both the North/South corridor and the bypass are on the CTP, there is no capital funding for them or any projects throughout the state, according to Nelson.

“We don’t foresee those projects having any additional funding associated with them,” said Nelson. “The other five remaining projects are essentially community safety enhancement projects.”

Also on the list are the state Route 546 bridge project which goes over I-68 in Finzel and the U.S. 219 resurfacing project that is currently under way from Oak Street to East Lake Street.

The planning commission noted minor changes to those projects on the priority list.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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