Route 219 extension could drive local economy

Local News
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The 11-mile extension of Route 219 connecting Somerset to Meyersdale should open in a few months.

Ron Aldom, the executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce is anxious to hit the road.

“Everybody wants it to happen,” Aldom said.

Aldom said the new road will be safer, cut travel time and drive the local economy, locally and statewide.

“This opens up that whole eastern seaboard. I mean, that’s D.C., that’s Baltimore, that’s some of the heaviest-populated areas with better access to our county.That’s a big deal,” Aldom said.

He’s optimistic recent winter weather won’t delay construction crews. This spring, workers are set to pave the highway and add final touches, like painting lines and adding rumble strips.

Once the 11-mile stretch opens, there’s still about 5.5 miles left to connect 219 with I-68 in Maryland, which could pave the way for economic development in Maryland and West Virginia.

“This road actually means as much in some sense to Maryland and West Virginia as it does in Pennsylvania. So we’ve all been actively part of the process,” Aldom said.

Aldom said legislators need to push for approval and funding for that last 5.5-mile stretch.

“As we know, in the world of government, nothing is guaranteed, but it would be so wrong at this point to have the highway open up and have 5.5 miles to keep it from connecting to two states, multiple municipalities and opening up a trade corridor for the residents. Yeah, that would be wrong,” Aldom said.

Project leaders anticipate the extended Route 219 will open late summer or early fall 2018.

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