GRANTSVILLE — Road construction along Interstate 68 westbound at the Grantsville exit is part of a 1.4-mile realignment that will replace existing U.S. Route 219.
A walking tour of the construction zone was conducted Wednesday by the State Highway Administration, which hosted representatives of various media outlets.
“We are doing this to acquaint everyone with this big project, which is making progress on a major project that will benefit drivers and the community,” said SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar.
When completed, the construction will result in a new four-lane highway, an 8-foot inside shoulder and 10-foot outside shoulder in both directions, two roundabouts and connecting ramps at I-68 and U.S. 40 Alternate.
The new travel lanes will extend to Old Salisbury Road.
The $61.5 million, design-build project will separate through truck traffic from local traffic. Triton Construction is the contractor for the project that began last August with utility relocation.
Federal funding for the project totals $53.7 million in federal highway funds in addition to the state’s cost of $7.8 million.
“The U.S. 219 realignment will support proposed economic development and growth in the region,” Gischlar said.
When completed, there will remain a 5.5-mile section yet to be completed from Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, to the Maryland state line.
A section of U.S. Route 219 in Pennsylvania from Somerset to Meyersdale was completed last fall.
Work on the project is continuing on a six-day schedule. At present, more than three dozen contractor workers and inspectors are working at the 60-acre site, which includes a wetland mitigation area and reforestation in the area of the former U.S. 219 north exit that was closed by the SHA in the early 1980s.
“So far the project has gone well," Devin Miller, SHA assistant district engineer of construction for District 6, said. "No major design issues, no delays, property or otherwise.”
“Build-design is not our first line of design," he said. "It’s an option we utilize in which design and build go hand-in-hand. All design is approved before building begins.”
Officials said the design-build approach reduces costs, reduces planning and design time from four to five years to two years.
Project engineer Tom Fulton said about 40 acres of trees were removed to make way for the project. Crews were required to clear trees in winter 2017-2018 to preempt the rare native Indiana bat species from using the trees as a summer habitat before 2018 utility relocation and construction work.
“Three properties were acquired along with about a dozen partial tracts,” Fulton said.
Right-of-way acquisition was handled by the SHA.
A fly-by view of the project is available at https://youtu.be/zLG_GSpu2-4 from the PRIME AE Group, which provided professional engineering services for the project.