PennDOT opens bids for Route 219

Posted on July 25th, 2013

Daily American (July 25, 2013)

The Joseph B. Fay Co. has submitted the apparent low bid of $110,648,000 for the earth-moving work for the construction of a four-lane Route 219 between Meyersdale and Somerset.

The company has a mailing address of Russellton and a physical location in Tarentum. No one was available for comment at the company on Thursday.

New Enterprise-Trumbull submitted the second lowest bid of $118,550,000. New Enterprise of New Enterprise and Trumbull of Pittsburgh are separate companies but often submit a joint bid, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 9 spokeswoman Tara Callahan-Henry said. Lane Construction, Cheshire, Conn., submitted a bid of $123,835,000; and Beaver Excavating, Canton, Ohio, bid $148,662,000.

Four bids were opened on Thursday at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 9 Office in Hollidaysburg. None of the contractors attended the bid opening.

“We were expecting four to six bids,” District Executive Thomas Prestash said in a telephone interview. “This is obviously a huge project when you think about it. Only certain companies can do this work. The bid did come in under our estimate.”

An estimated 10 million cubic yards of dirt will have to be moved for construction of the 11-mile segment of Route 219.

PennDOT will review the Fay bid to make sure that it meets the specifications. If it does PennDOT can award the contract and issue the notice to proceed. That is anticipated to occur within 60 days. Work could begin in late September or early October.

This large of a construction project is bid as separate jobs. PennDOT will advertise later for bids for construction of the 12 bridges and the 11 miles of highway with two interchanges. Prestash is estimating that those bids will be advertised in about one and a half to two years. That can be moved up if earth-moving work proceeds quicker.

“We’re absolutely exactly where we should be in the process,” he said. “We’re very pleased and anxious to get started. Obviously many people have been involved over the years in getting this accomplished.”

Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk said he was glad that the bid was lower than anticipated, but he is disappointed that New Enterprise-Trumbull did not submit the lowest bid because a lot of people from Somerset County work for New Enterprise.

“I’m happy it is moving forward,” he said. “This is a moment we’ve been waiting for, for more than 40 years.”

The Route 219 four-lane project was first proposed in 1957. The 25-mile section of Route 219 from Cambria County south to Somerset was started in 1967. Land was purchased for the Meyersdale Bypass in the late 1970s. A group of people began pushing for the highway to go further east, closer to Berlin. That halted the project.

Construction of the Meyersdale Bypass started in 1997. The Meyersdale to Somerset section was delayed again in 2005 when the federal transportation bill excluded the use of toll credits as the state’s 20 percent share of funding. The new federal highway bill includes the use of toll credits. That means the $300 million project is 100 percent federally funded.

While the entire project is anticipated to take five years, it could be faster depending on the contractor. Prestash said that Gov. Tom Corbett has not yet decided if Pennsylvania will accept Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s offer for Maryland to pay for the necessary study to complete that section of Route 219. Funding for that portion of the project is still in limbo.

By Vicki Rock