Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 27, 2013

Dignitaries break ground on U.S. 219 four lane

Work on 11-mile stretch between Somerset, Meyersdale expected to start next month

SOMERSET, Pa. — More than 40 years after initial work began on U.S. Route 219, construction on a long-anticipated, four-lane highway from Somerset to Meyersdale will begin within the next month.

To mark the milestone, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday with a host of dignitaries in attendance, as well as residents who have long supported the completion of the stretch of highway.

Thomas Prestash, PennDOT District 9, said the 11-mile portion of highway will be competed over the course of five years and work will be completed in three phases — earthwork, bridges and pavement. The bid for the earthwork was awarded earlier this year to the Joseph B. Fay Co., which submitted a bid of $110,648,000.

The entire project is expected to cost $305 million.

Prestash said the project is the result of the dedication of many individuals and representatives and a determination by residents in both Pennsylvania and Maryland.

“This project is a long time coming,” he added.

 Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley commended the project and said it it is time to move forward after decades of delays. He said the completion of this portion will create 9,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, provide a safe roadway for travelers and spur economic development. Cawley praised the efforts of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster for his dedication in securing funding for the project.

“We have been waiting for this day for more than 40 years, but this is not the end — we need to finish 219 to the Maryland line connecting to Interstate 68. This is more than a highway, this is going to be 70 miles of opportunity made possible by all of us working together to make great things happen,” Cawley said.

Throughout the ceremony, speakers remarked on the belief that the completion of the highway will play a significant role in economic development for communities along the corridor, but only if the road is linked to I-68.

“Many years of hard work and perseverance have paid off and it is our day to celebrate,” said Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk. “However, the job is not complete and we must continue our efforts to complete the remaining seven miles to the Maryland border. The Somerset County Commissioners want to thank The Greater Cumberland Committee, especially Colleen Peterson and David Moe, for their support and efforts to help the residents of Somerset County.”

Moe and members of TGCC were among guests for the event and also expressed their pleasure that the road will be a reality.

“Back in 2007, when Penn-DOT canceled work on both sections of 219 south from Somerset to Interstate 68 in Maryland they told us they couldn’t proceed because they couldn’t use toll credits for the required state match for federal funds. Well, we buckled down, went to Washington, D.C., several times over the previous years and worked with our federal legislators in our three states and got that changed,” Moe said. “So in a way this is a celebration of that event and a lot of people in our multistate North-South Appalachian Coalition played a significant part in bringing about this groundbreaking event.  

“But the job is not done. We have only 10 more miles in Pennsylvania and Maryland combined to go to bring a four-lane, divided 219 to Interstate 68 in Maryland. Then there will be 77 miles of four-lane, divided highway infrastructure that will bring significant jobs and growth to our region.”

Brenda Smith, executive director of TGCC, said the organization considers the completion of 219 to Maryland to be a top priority.  

“Through a shared vision across county and state lines, and by building partnerships through strong leadership by the members of TGCC’s North/South Core Work Group and the North/South Coalition, this groundbreaking offers evidence of what is truly possible when we work together for the common good. We are pleased to be associated with this project, but share the sentiment of our project coordinator, Dave Moe, this is an important step, but there is still a great deal of work to do,” Smith said.

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett responded to an offer by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to assist with the planning costs associated with the final leg of the project. In the letter, Corbett indicated a willingness to work with Maryland officials to begin the planning process, but emphasized that, at this time, no funds are available to complete the road from Meyersdale to I-68.

Officials from both states celebrated the beginning of this latest project, but pledged to continue to lobby for the highway to be completed.

“Our work will not be done until U.S. Route 219 is linked to Interstate 68,” Vatavuk said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fourmile Ridge wind project approved, moves forward

    The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the Fourmile Ridge wind project in eastern Garrett County and site preparation started April 7, according to Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesman. The current notice listed on the FAA website for the project is for a small change in turbine location.

    April 17, 2014

  • Oakland back to normal after toppled tanker closes business district

    The town of Oakland returned to normal activities Thursday, one day after a tanker full of liquid propane overturned in the heart of the business district.
    Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday the toppled tanker was removed and its 10,000-gallon load transferred to another tanker.

    April 17, 2014

  • Students back Southern Middle School renovation

    Students from both Southern and Northern middle schools presented a list of reasons why Southern Middle needs to be renovated during the Garrett County Commission meeting Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Trial run Trial run

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 72nd anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo 72nd anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

    Friday, April 18, has another special meaning for me besides Good Friday.
    April 18, 1942, proved to be a pivotal day for American morale, following the deadly air attack and destruction conceived and executed by Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lara Courrier seeks re-appointment to Mineral school board

    I, Lara Courrier, am seeking re-election to the Mineral County Board of Education to continue the work I’ve done the last four years. Having served as a school counselor at the Burlington Center School and the Chick Buckbee Juvenile Center for nearly six years, as well as approximately 20 years total working with children, I have insight into the needs of kids and the importance of the actions of the school board. Having three sons and several nieces and nephews in Mineral County schools, I have an added incentive to continue to work hard to ensure the efficient running of our school system. 

    April 17, 2014