Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

July 28, 2013

Waiting ends

Bids are opened, Route 219 work may soon begin

A big cheer certainly must have been heard last Thursday by members of the Greater Cumberland Committee and the many others who have been promoting construction of the Meyersdale-Somerset portion of U.S. Route 219.

Joseph B. Fay Co. in suburban Pittsburgh is the apparent low bidder at $110,468,000 for excavation and preliminary construction along the entire 11-mile project.

Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk echoed the sentiments of many others when, after the bids were opened, said: “This is the day we have been waiting for, for the last 40 years.”

The Route 219 extension from Meyersdale to Somerset has been in the planning and design process since at least 2006, with land acquisition beginning in 2009 and wrapping up last year, project engineer Greg Illig said. Now work could begin as soon as October.

The project is seen as vitally important to the area’s economy because it would help provide a north-south highway route for the region. It will be a four-lane, limited-access highway and the largest new road-building project currently under way in Pennsylvania.

The only drawback in Thursday’s bid opening was that a Somerset County-based company, New Enterprise Stone & Lime Corp., was outbid for the work. The firm bid $123,835,354, or about $13 million higher than the Fay company’s apparent low bid. “We are disappointed New Enterprise didn’t get it,” Vatavuk said. “They have a plant right in Somerset, and they are based out of Somerset County. A lot of people in Somerset County work for New Enterprise.”

Nevertheless, it was good to see the bidding process reach fruition. If the low bid can be given the final approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, it shouldn’t be long before the 11-mile project goes from the drawing board to actual construction.

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