SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Additional Appalachian Program Development (APD) federal funding will help accelerate the expansion of U.S. 219 in Somerset County, PennDOT announced.

The $53 million investment in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was committed today to continue the remaining pre-construction phase activities of the final design, right-of-way and utilities to upgrade the country’s last remaining two-lane section of 219 to a four-lane, limited-access highway.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making significant progress possible across Pennsylvania,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “This investment also shows the commitment to growing and supporting our rural economies and transportation system.”

This funding comes after the $6 million in APD funds that was announced in November 2020 that have been used to begin the environmental studies and alignment selection phase of the project.

It’s reported the studies are intended to advance the portion of 219 from the southern end of the Meyersdale Bypass to the northern end of the recently completed 219/Interstate 68 interchange near Old Salisbury Road in Maryland.

“Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) and I have been advocating for this expansion project of U.S. 219 for years to improve interstate commerce and highway safety,” Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said. “Today’s announcement securing $53 million of Federal Appalachian Program Development funding will complete essential pre-construction activities and will continue promoting the project’s benefits to secure funding for the construction of this critical corridor.”

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Federal, state and local officials will still need to continue to work closely to find a solution to secure funding for the construction phase of this project.

PennDOT said the design team is currently performing resource agency coordination, environmental data collection and starting to engage local public officials and residents for their input on the project.