Tree cutting starts Route 219 project

Posted on February 15th, 2013

Daily American (February 15, 2013)

As the first tree fell Friday morning in the path of a four-lane Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale, supporters celebrated the beginning of the long-awaited project.

Route 219: Construction Begins!

“I feel like today I’m winning a lot of bets,” Henry Cook, president of Somerset Trust Co., said.
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Timber crews on Friday began the tree removal process on the Route 219 extension project. The $305 million project will connect Somerset to Meyersdale with a four-lane highway.

And while the project will take five years to compete, several longtime supporters were happy to see the progress.

Cook is a second-generation Route 219 supporter. His father, George Cook, also put a lot of time and effort into advocating for the project.

“Since the Meyersdale Bypass in the mid-1990s it has been an enormous pet project of mine,” he said.

Cook said the project will be an economic boost for the area. He said the backbone of economic development is infrastructure. With the turnpike running east to west and a completed Route 219 running north to south, the area is poised for economic growth.

“We could really capitalize on the historical, traditional work ethic of our community,” he said. “Infrastructure is the heart of economic growth.”

But Cook knows there is a lot more work to be done.

“The mission isn’t finished but it is a very, very exciting step,” he said.