SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Senator Bob Casey spoke to local leaders in Meyersdale Tuesday morning to promote new funding to expand Route 219 in the area.

Casey said $53 million will be used for a pre-construction period to increase the highway from two lanes to four from Meyersdale down to the Maryland border.

The pre-construction phase is expected to last five years and include utility relocations, environmental clearances and right-of-way acquisition. Rows of trees, for example, will need to be removed on both sides of the highway in some areas to make room for more lanes.

Construction is expected to begin in 2028.

The highway, part of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), is already “completed” in most parts, meaning there are already four lanes.

But Senator Casey said “completing” the highway in Somerset is important to create new jobs, prevent crashes and make it easier and safer to visit the area.

“Rural communities can’t be left behind when Washington makes determinations about funding,” Casey said. “The people of this county [and] the people of this region deserve the investment in 219. It’s long overdue.”

The funding comes from an infrastructure law for the highway that includes the Finish ADHS Act, which Casey introduced last year. The act calls for a $1 billion investment in ADHS highways, including $87.5 million for Pennsylvania.

Funding after completion of the pre-construction phase is to be announced later.

“We still have more work to do,” Casey said. “[We] still have more dollars and miles to travel, so to speak. But we’re happy we’re at this point.”

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PennDOT is in charge of the highway’s pre-construction and construction. It most recently made improvements to the McNally Bridge on 219 last year.

It also made renovations to the highway in Cambria County in 2020-21, including sign upgrades, resurfacing and more.