PennDOT, Maryland considering six alignments for final leg of Route 219; meeting planned

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Jun. 23—SOMERSET, Pa. — The public will get a chance to weigh in Thursday on six possible routes for the final four-lane leg of Route 219 between Ebensburg and Maryland.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials are having two meetings about the project in the coming week.

The first will be held 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department, 385 Ord St. For those unable to attend, a virtual meeting through the web-conferencing platform Zoom will be held at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

In a release to media, PennDOT officials said they plan to update the public on the status of the project, which is now in the preliminary engineering phase, as well as plans to complete a one-mile section just south of the Pennsylvania line near Maryland.

Maryland transportation officials will also attend the session.

The public meeting was scheduled as state officials proceed toward a planning phase that includes the National Environmental Policy Act process, which includes vetting potential corridors for environmental concerns before selecting a final route.

Property owners along those corridors are notified about the meetings.

The Somerset County commissioners, who have lobbied for years to get the project underway, said the step is a small but crucial part of the project.

"PennDOT has engineers — but no one knows those properties better than the people who live there," Commissioner Colleen Dawson said.

PennDOT District 9 press officer Tara Callahan-Henry said at least 135 letters have been sent to adjacent property owners encouraging them to attend and provide input on the proposals.

All six of the proposed routes travel different paths east of Salisbury. In all but one case, each would run entirely east of the current two-lane U.S. Route 219.

The proposed options share a common path directly south of Meyersdale, but vary in length and direction near the Maryland line.

All would require at least two bridges, including one over Piney Creek, an outline of PennDOT's current proposals shows.

To develop a new four-lane highway from Meyersdale into Maryland, the state will need to buy property along the path or obtain entry rights, and likely will need temporary easements in some areas to enable work to occur.

But the state also has to consider other matters, such as wetlands, threatened and endangered species and other environmental concerns, before work gets underway.

As currently projected, the state has the funding in place to move the project through the final design phase between 2025 and 2028. The first $50 million of an estimated $250 million has already been secured toward final construction.

As scheduled, the highway would be completed in 2031, state officials have said.