The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 19, 2013

Maryland offers to help with cash for Route 219 study

Randy Griffith
rgriffith@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — While State Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch and Gov. Tom Corbett are out campaigning for a new transportation funding bill with creative approaches highway improvements, an offer for help

has come from an unusual source.

Maryland Gov. Mitchell O’Malley recently offered to help front the money on a required feasibility study for the Route 219 south extension from Meyersdale to Interstate 68 in Maryland.

“An active partnership is required to complete the planning study as this project spans both states,” O’Malley wrote to Corbett.

“If PennDOT is not in a position to complete their portion of the planning study, I would like to offer that the Maryland Department of Transportation move forward and complete project planning actvities for the full length of U.S. 219 between I-68 and Meyersdale, utilizing Maryland’s (federal) Appalachan Development Highway System funds.”

The arrangement would allow Maryland to move forward with planning and development, and would give

PennDOT the tool to make progress when funding is identified, O’Malley said.

At a Greater Johnstown/

Cambria County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday, Schoch said the Route 219 study is only one step in the planning.

“We certainly greatly appreciate the offer,” Schoch said. “But it is not the cost of the study that scares us.”

The project is estimated at $300 million, and no funding mechanism has been identified, Schoch said. Until funding is lined up, the federal government won’t allow much additional preparation work, he explained.

He compared it to telling someone you really need a new car and having them respond that they will help you buy some tires.

Although he stopped short of identifying which highway projects are in jeopardy, Schoch on Friday stressed that a new transportation funding bill is crucial to any new construction.

A Route 219 south connection to Interstate 68 in Maryland, Route 219 north improvements to Interstate 80, Route 56 east safety work on Pleasantville Mountain and Route 56 West End upgrades have been presented as Cambria County’s top priorities.

“I don’t disagree with the need for any of these things,” Schoch said.

“The question is: How do we pay for it?”

 

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