Continental 1 Group Sets 2020 Advocacy Agenda

Posted on March 3rd, 2020

TONAWANDA, NY (March 3) – The Continental 1 board of directors today announced their 2020 Advocacy Agenda, focused on moving forward highway projects along the US 219 corridor in three states. Following the opening of the new 11-mile section of the highway between Somerset and Meyersdale, PA, the board’s next steps look toward the future, and how to keep US 219 – and rural highways in general – on the radar for federal infrastructure funding.

“Continental 1’s agenda for this year builds off of some great successes in the corridor, and seeks to better position US 219, particularly its rural sections, for when a federal highway funding source is finally identified,” said Continental 1 board chairman G. Henry Cook, president of Somerset Trust Bank. “In the meantime, we’re looking at what improvements can be made to the road in the population centers along the corridor to help spur economic activity. It’s a good agenda, and our board is motivated.”

New to the agenda for the organization is the scheduled mill-and-overlay project on US 219 between I-86 and the NY/PA line. The project has been highlighted by stakeholders in both Cattaraugus and McKean Counties as a priority, supporting the tourism economy in both regions, as well as access to the Buffalo Niagara metro area for both freight and passenger vehicles. The project is currently slated to kick off in summer 2020 on the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) schedule.

“The objective of our 2020 agenda is to create economic opportunity through improved access, mobility and safety along the US 219 corridor,” Cook continued. “This section of the road has long been identified as a problem, and we’re very pleased to see New York State taking it on as part of the overall US 219 picture. Let’s make sure it happens on-schedule.”

Board members expressed their appreciation for continued momentum in Somerset County, as supporters of the effort to complete US 219 build off the 11-mile section between Meyersdale and Somerset to rally for finishing the road the remaining five (5) miles between Meyersdale and the PA/MD state line, ultimately connecting with Maryland’s project, slated to be completed in 2021, and I-68. The board felt the timing was right for next steps, with a new secretary for PENNDOT, and renewed discussion in Washington about the passage of a federal infrastructure bill.

Conversely, board members expressed continued frustration with delays surrounding the process for New York’s supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS), for which funding was allocated in 2017, but has yet to begin. “We’re looking forward to the environmental process in Cattaraugus County starting soon, and working with the consultant to bring public input,” said Cook. “We are aware there are deadlines coming up, so hopefully the state’s process will kick into action soon.”