Somerset County leaders celebrating a big step in their 60-year effort to make Route 219 4-lanes throughout the county.
Crispin Havener looks at what the expanded corridor could mean for the county and the region.
It’s been a decades long road for Somerset County leaders to get Route 219 as a 4-lane highway completely through the county. Right now, that 4-lane experience ends in Meyersdale. A 6-mile stretch between here and the Maryland border remains a 2-lane windy road. Now they’re hoping to complete that.
A celebration of a big step to making Route 219 a full 4-lane highway in Somerset County
“We are standing here today with 219 funded up to the construction portion, and the funding for the construction for the funding phase become a reality.”
With $53 million of federal money set to be used for planning, environmental regulation costs and other pre-construction work like buying land rights, to connect the end of the 4-lane expressway in Meyersdale, 6 miles down to Maryland border where it will connect with Maryland’s 4-lane 219 to Interstate 68.
“Today our 4-lane highway becomes a reality.”
After decades of being told it would never happen.
“60 years! 60 years this vision has been out there.”
This is a big step brought forward through the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill, toward getting the full $250 million needed to then proceed with the project.
“Opportunity and potential. Those are very powerful words in a weary world. But this is exactly what this road means for Somerset County and it is up to us to define what the future looks like and how we leverage he possibilities.”
One that promises to bring better access for businesses and residents of Somerset County and beyond.
“Wheeler Brothers could hire a 3rd shift, leading to a 20% increase in output and lead to them recruiting workers further south. And Heritage Coal could save $1 million a year in transportation costs.”
“This bill will create 30,00 jobs in Pennsylvania over the next 10 years. I’m not good at math but even I know that’s a hell of a lot of jobs.”
A Big Benefit for the region that has more steps to go, but one that is finally coming into focus.
“Rural communities can’t be left behind when Washington makes determinations when it comes to funding. The people of this county the people of this region deserve the investment in 219. It’s long overdue.”