Moving along on Route 219 | Construction on southern leg progressing

Posted on August 7th, 2014

The Tribune-Democrat (August 7, 2014)

JOHNSTOWN — Route 219 south from Somerset to Meyersdale is more than a dream but not yet a highway.

But this important project is moving forward steadily.

By the time it is completed in 2017, the $305 million project will begin to have a significant impact on the region’s economic landscape.

For the time being, the landscape shift is a literal one, with Joseph B. Fay Co. of Tarentum, Allegheny County, moving 4 million cubic tons of earth in the past year to make way for a future transportation corridor that will better connect the Cambria-Somerset region with points south.

“I have people tell me when they drive through this area and they see the progress that has been made, they’re starting to see how the highway’s taking shape and how they’re going to be able to drive on this highway someday,” said Thomas Helsel, PennDOT’s project construction manager on the 219 project.

To say a four-lane, limited access highway will be an improvement for driv-ers over the current twisting two-lane road is an understatement – as anyone who commutes regularly through the Berlin area can attest.

“It’s going to be a much safer ride, a quicker ride,” Bill Parisi, a roadway supervisor from SAI Consulting Engineers, told reporter Dave Sutor.

This 11-mile leg of Route 219 is also part of a larger transportation vision that will include extending the southern stretch all the way to Interstate 68 in Maryland, and also running the 219 four-lane north from Ebensburg to I-80.

We urge area legislators to continue to work hard in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., with the goal of making that complete concept – perhaps just a pipe dream at the moment – the transportation reality we need here.

Once those improvements to 219 are realized, we can truly boast that the economic landscape has shifted dramatically.

In the meantime, we share Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk’s feelings about what is happening on this north-south corridor.

“I’m pleased with the progress,” Vatavuk said.