Route 219 expansion approved by the EPA

Officials are hoping to secure one final permit before construction to improve and expand Route 219 can begin.

The Environmental Protection Agency informed the Army Corps of Engineers that the agency would not seek a higher review of the improvement project, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, said in a news release.

The Army Corps of Engineers can now issue the final permit needed before construction can begin, Shuster said.

Shuster praised the EPA’s approval of the project.

Route 219 is a “critical north-south route” which will help to enhance the region’s economic development once the expansion project is completed, Shuster said in a news release.

The project has been 42 years in the making, Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk said.

“We’re really excited. … We’re looking forward to construction in September,” Vatavuk said.

Construction will expand Route 219 between Somerset and Meyersdale. The ultimate plan is to expand the roadway into Maryland and New York, he said.

But additional permits are needed, and those construction projects could take years, he said.

Despite multiple delays and setbacks, construction to expand Route 219 will be a benefit to the region, Vatavuk said.

“This fall, it could be a historic year for the people in Somerset County,” Vatavuk said.