Cumberland Times-News

Latest news

November 3, 2012

Window for removing trees along U.S. Route 219 putting squeeze on officials

Money for lanes is in place, but environmental issues hold up progress

MEYERSDALE, Pa. — A couple-months-long window for removing trees along the U.S. Route 219 corridor south of Somerset is putting the squeeze on officials as they strive to meet a spring start on the four-lane limited-access highway.

PennDOT District 9 executive Tom Prestash told members of the North/South Appalachian Highway Coalition and elected officials from Pennsylvania and Maryland on Thursday that while the $300 million needed to turn the two-lane into a limited-access four-lane is in place, the state still awaits federal permits involving environmental issues.

The good news is that an extensive survey failed to turn up any Indiana bats, a federal endangered species that could have brought immeasurable delay and increases hopes of permit approval by year’s end, he said.

“We’re committed to getting that thing under construction next year,” Prestash said.

But one looming potential problem is again the Indiana bat, which could push the start of construction into the latter part of next year.

The permits have to be in PennDOT’s hands before the project can be put out to bid. A part of the bids will be the cutting down of what amounts to 200-plus acres of trees along the right of way.

Because of the potential that the habitat of Indiana bats could be harmed, a strict time limit to do that timbering is in place, Prestash said.

“We are only allowed to cut any trees from November to March. We need to get this tree cutting down,” he said. “We’re pushing aggressively to get those permits in place.”

The timbering will take about 30 days and require only that the trees are cut down and on the ground with cleanup after the March deadline. But further delays in the permitting process will force the timbering into November 2013.

The highway project, which will provide a four-lane Route 219 from north of Ebensburg to Meyersdale, has been on the wish list of many for decades and will soon become a reality with federal legislation that eliminates the need for any state match.

Route 219 from Ebensburg south is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, one of six such corridors in the state as designated by Congress a half-century ago in an effort to bring the states along the Appalachian Mountains out of poverty.

The massive, five-year road project, described by Prestash as currently the largest in the state, will be financed 100 percent using ADHS money and is expected to attract competitive bidding from across Pennsylvania.

Map-21, the two-year federal highway legislation signed into law in July, removes the requirement that ADHS money be matched 20 percent by the state and eliminates the need to use toll credits, ending a seven-year battle between state and federal legislators, said Dave Moe.

Moe, coordinator of the North/South coalition, said estimates are that this phase of the highway, along with six miles from Meyersdale south and about three miles in Maryland to Interstate 68, will create 20,000 construction jobs and result in an economic impact for southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland of 10,000 permanent jobs.

Under the plans outlined by Prestash Thursday, 10 million cubic yards of earth will be moved for the Somerset to Meyersdale work, taking about two years.

Two years will be needed for construction and another year for paving.

1
Text Only
Latest news
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads
NDN Video
"Bachelorette" Men Tell All Meets a Crasher Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad
NDN Video
"Bachelorette" Men Tell All Meets a Crasher Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad