Route 219 expansion hitting roadblock northbound

Posted on October 12th, 2015

Christian Heilman, WTAJ-TV

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Route 219 is in the middle of a huge expansion in Somerset County. In the meantime, people believe there is still work to be done going northbound.

Route 219 is expanding South from Somerset to Meyersdale with a four lane highway. The $300 million price-tag was funded by the federal government. They started buying land for the project in the 1970’s.

Work began in 2013 and the 11 mile highway addition will be completed in late 2017 or early 2018.

It’s all a part of a larger plan called Continental One.

The goal is to create a four lane highway between Miami and Toronto. It’s been in the works for years — and could have a major economic impact in our region — if it ever moves forward.

Mile marker 75 is the end of the road for people driving northbound on Route 219.

Charlie Moyer, Committee to Expand 219, said, “Unfortunately we’re right where we were 20 years ago. ”

He remembers the day in 1990 when this stretch of four lane highway was dedicated to then congressmen Jack Murtha.

“If we don’t visit this on a regular basis it’s going to go away for good,” Moyer said.

Moyer thought this stretch of road would’ve been built faster. He thinks connecting route 219 to Bradford with a four-lane highway could be a big boom.

“Well obviously it starts out with bringing the access and after that it’s going to make it much more attractive for all industry,” he said.

But the money for major construction is tough to come by.

“You had figured by this year this time we would be a lot further,” Moyer said.

Tom Chernisky, Cambria County Commissioner, said, “I don’t see the federal government giving billions of dollars to complete the road.”

Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky thinks doing the project in chunks could be key to getting it started.

“And we can connect communities to communities to communities in bits and pieces,” Chernisky said.

Leaders met Friday to discuss the plans for the project to keep the idea alive.

“The potential is here,” Moyer said. “We just need to deliver and this highway is going to have a lot to do with it.”

Moyer is dedicated to expanding 219. So the end of the road here can be the start of a new project.

“We want to see this completed,” Moyer said. “You won’t be able to stand here because the traffic is too heavy.”

Chernisky stressed that residents need to put pressure on congressmen and senators to get that initial push.