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Bridges, roads in the region to see upgrades in 2022; US 219 plans move forward

April 7—SOMERSET, Pennsylvania — After a decade of funding cuts, an injection of federal infrastructure funds will allow PennDOT to rehabilitate or replace 25 aging bridges this year in Cambria and Somerset counties and resurface roads the busiest in the region, including US Routes 22 and 219, in years to come.

Plans to get the last four-lane section of Somerset County Road 219 under construction in 2028 are also progressing, with a first public meeting scheduled for June to try and narrow a preferred route for the six-mile corridor to the Maryland, state officials said.

‘Good Energy’

Through a bipartisan infrastructure plan first introduced by the Biden administration in 2020, funding has been designated to move the Route 219 design process toward completion, state officials said and of the county last year.

There are still years of work to be done, but efforts are beginning to shift toward obtaining the required environmental approvals for work between Meyersdale and the Maryland line, District 9 Manager Tom Prestash said during a briefing. a meeting Wednesday at the Sipesville fire station.

For that to happen, state officials will need to reach out to local communities this summer to identify potential community and environmental issues the highway’s development could cause, Prestash told a room full of state officials. borough, township and county.

PennDOT officials said up to four proposed or “preferred” paths for the new segment of Route 219 could be explored at a meeting that will be announced publicly for residents and local officials to attend.

“Whether it’s endangered species, farmland issues or other environmental impacts, we have to be sensitive to them,” Prestash said.

While development costs will differ for each potential pathway, it will also be the state’s priority to reduce the project’s environmental impact as much as possible, he said.

“The other thing we have to consider is that this is western Pennsylvania. … Nothing is flat, and there are going to be major structures that we have to build, just like we have. done on the previous segment of Highway 219,” he said, referring to the series of bridges that have been built along the 11-mile Somerset-Meyersdale stretch of four-lane Highway 219 that opened its doors in 2018.

Going forward, state and county officials also plan to seek competitive funds through an Appalachian Highway Development System pool that could allocate 25% of the cost to additional pre-construction expenses, according to Vince Greenland, PennDOT District 9 Assistant Director for Design.

With the project being a state priority, there is a lot of optimism.

“Two years ago, we would have been hesitant to even set (projection) dates for the Route 219 project,” Prestash said. “There’s a lot of good energy going forward.”

Thanks primarily to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November, Prestash said, state funding allocation for roads, bridges and culverts is at its highest level since. 2015.

Work is scheduled for 2022 on 18 bridges in Somerset County, including the Shade Creek Bridge on Route 601 and the Glessner Road Bridge in Conemaugh Township.

In Cambria, this includes work on the Point Stadium Bridge in Johnstown and a Route 160 bridge in Wilmore that crosses the Little Conemaugh River, as well as rehabilitation work on Galleria Drive in Richland Township, officials said. PennDOT.

Bridge and road repairs are not flashy projects. Many result in traffic delays or detours that lead motorists out of their way. But they are vital for transport safety, Prestash said.

Severe winter conditions can quickly destroy roads, and parts of the current Highway 219 corridor are already showing their age.

A series of interchanges along U.S. Route 22 from the Ebensburg area to the Blair County line also require $7.5 million in concrete work, Greenland said. To the north, Route 553 from Route 219 to the Indiana County line will also be resurfaced in 2022.

“If you let these roads pass their lifecycle, that’s when you start to run into bigger problems — more expensive repairs,” Greenland said. “That’s where we are now with some of these routes, unfortunately.”

In Somerset County, road resurfacing is planned on portions of U.S. Route 40 in Addison, Soap Hollow Road in Conemaugh Township, Green Bridge Road in Jenner Township, and Route 601 in the townships. of Jenner and Lincoln.

Jenner Township Supervisor Chad Codispoti said upgrades are welcome because they are often slow in coming.

“No one (community) can get all the money. You kind of have to share the love…and wait your turn,” he said.

Conemaugh Township Supervisor Steven Buncich said he fully understands that. He’s been pushing for years to have Highway 403 repaved, and on Wednesday he learned the project is set to go to tender in October — a welcome sign, he said.

“We have insisted for a long time,” he said.

Prestash said a combined total of 150 miles of road and 45 bridges are awaiting repair or replacement in Cambria, Bedford, Blair and Somerset counties.

The state plans to undertake 55 projects in the coming years – but even with emergency funds set aside, recent inflation could threaten some of the work. This spring, low bids averaged 10% over budget.

“Employment issues, supply issues – these are major concerns for the industry right now,” he said. “We are working with the construction industry as best we can.”