Route 219 Expansion Project makes major progress in Somerset County

Posted on September 3rd, 2014

WJAC (August 27, 2014)

SOMERSET, Pa. — The Route 219 Expansion Project is well underway in Somerset County, despite local leaders breaking ground less than a year ago.

The sounds of bulldozers and backhoes echo in southern Somerset County as the first phase of the project is making major headway.

Tom Helsel, Transportation Project Manager for PennDOT, said about four million cubic yards of earth work has been moved. “Of the $110 million of this particular project, about $41 million [has been spent].”

Helsel said the first phase is most of the ground work. Drivers will notice ramps being added near the Meyersdale interchange.

“We’re doing a big cut back there through the hillside; And we’re also under the next contract, which is the structures contract, going to put over existing 219, and that bridge will be 200 feet high, it’ll actually be higher than the McNally Bridge,” Helsel said.

The $110 million project is paving the way to add 11.5 miles from the end of the highway in Somerset to the Meyersdale bypass.

“Everybody pays their gas tax when they put fuel in their vehicles so Cambria and Somerset Counties would like to see that gas tax put to use in our area here,” Helsel explained.

The project is paid for the by the Federal Highway Administration.

Helsel said he expects a lot of money to be pumped back into our region. “It’s a very good thing economically that will, hopefully, open up this area to economic develop; and, also, just the safety factor of the highway, instead of having people on two-lane roads in the winter time, a four-lane highway is a naturally a safer highway.”

Helsel said the project is expected to be complete by October of 2017.

PennDOT said there is still a study being done for the expansion of the northern tier of Route 219.

By Melanie Gillespie