Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 16, 2013

‘Bold’ offer

O’Malley pledges to use Maryland funds to plan U.S. 219 in Pennsylvania

 Gov. Martin O’Malley is — please, excuse the pun — going the extra mile in trying to get Maryland and Pennsylvania in line to complete expansion of the north-south U.S. Route 219 project.

In a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, O’Malley has pledged to use Maryland funds to help plan the project in the Keystone State. Then, when Pennsylvania is ready to move to design and construction, it could move quickly. If Maryland has the funding to move first, it could do so, because state officials would know where the Maryland road would meet the Pennsylvania road.

As to be expected, local supporters of the project are elated. “This is a bold and an unprecedented offer of bistate, bipartisan cooperation seeking to complete the last segment of the Appalachian Development Highway System Corridor ‘N’ (U.S .219) from I-68 in Maryland, to Meyersdale, Pa.,” said Dave Moe, coordinator of the North-South Appalachian Highway Project.

The highway project is estimated to provide 30,000 permanent and construction-related jobs in the region. The concept began in 1998 and a feasibility study concluded in 2001.

The proposed road would run from I-68 near Cumberland south nearly parallel to existing U.S. Route 220 to Corridor H in Grant County, W.Va., and north into Pennsylvania from U.S. Route 219 up to the turnpike.

The planning is currently on hold because Pennsylvania has decided not to fund the project. If Maryland is to take over the planning portion of the project, “Maryland will need a fully participatory partnership from PennDOT,” O’Malley said in his letter to Corbett.

The north-south highway has long been touted by tri-state area leaders as a key factor in the region’s economic growth. O’Malley’s offer of extra help on the project is evidence that he, too, understands the urgent need for a north-south transportation route.

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