Corbett receives offer from Maryland for 219 completion study

Posted on April 12th, 2013

Daily American (April 12, 2013)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has offered to use his own state’s money to pay for planning studies to complete Route 219 between Meyersdale and Interstate 68 in Maryland.

In a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, O’Malley proposes that the Maryland Department of Transportation complete the studies for the full-length of Route 219 between Interstate 68 and Meyersdale using money from Maryland’s Appalachian Development Highway System funds.

The letter was dated March 28. Excerpts from the letter were included in a press release issued Friday afternoon by the Greater Cumberland Committee. A representative from Corbett’s office confirmed that the letter was received.

“This is a bold and an unprecedented offer of bi-state, 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,” Dave Moe, coordinator of the North-South Appalachian Highway Project, said.

“If Pennsylvania joins in, hopefully we can get things moving again,” Moe said.

Moe said the completion of this project is needed for economic growth in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the North/South Appalachian Highway Coalition, said the coalition has had a big impact on the two states working together.

“I think Gov. O’Malley’s offer shows the importance of finishing this highway and the impact it has on the three-state region. It also shows the collaboration between the states and the multiple counties involved in the completion,” Aldom said.

Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk said the next step for this section of Route 219 is for Corbett to agree to fund it. He said the offer from Maryland to fund the planning and environmental review processes is unprecedented.

“It’s an extra incentive for Gov. Corbett to make a commitment to fund the project,” Vatavuk said.

The northern part of Route 219 — between Somerset and Meyersdale — was funded federally through the Appalachian Development Highway System program. Before the most recent transportation reauthorization bill passed last year, the state would have been required to fund 20 percent of the project.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is waiting on a joint waterways permit from the Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

After the final permit arrives PennDOT will be able to advertise for bids on the project.

Earthwork will be completed this year. The bridges and other structures are to be built in 2014 and the paving will be in 2015 — if everything goes as planned. The 11-mile project will have two interchanges and six bridges.

The North-South Appalachian Highway includes Route 219 in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The highway also travels through West Virginia.