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Rep. Joyce and Local Leaders Urge Completion of Rt. 219

Somerset, PA – Congressman John Joyce, M.D. (PA-13), joined by a number of community leaders in Somerset and Cambria Counties, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging the completion of U.S. Route 219, which would expand economic opportunities and increase safety across the region.

“The completion of Route 219 will advance economic opportunities in our region and make our roads safer,” said Rep. Joyce. “This project is a team effort, and I am grateful to the community leaders who have joined me on this letter to Secretary Chao. The final 5.5 miles of Route 219 are long-overdue, and I will continue working with the Trump Administration and the leaders of PA-13 to get the job done.”

Congressman Joyce’s efforts to complete Route 219 have garnered the support of many elected officials and business leaders throughout the region.

“Finishing the remaining miles of Route 219 is an important priority that will strengthen our region’s role as a trade corridor and economic hub, creating jobs and opportunities for economic growth in Somerset County and beyond,” said G. Henry Cook, CEO and Chairman of Somerset Trust Company. “After decades of hard work and advocacy, it is time that we complete this project once and for all. I encourage Secretary Chao and the Department of Transportation to support our efforts to expand economic opportunities and promote safety across the region.”

The letter encourages Secretary Chao and the U.S. Department of Transportation to support this commonsense project.

“As you work to address the unique needs of rural America, we respectfully request your office’s assistance with a project which would greatly impact central Pennsylvania,” they wrote. “Our region has recently benefited from an increased presence of manufacturers, warehouses, distribution centers and fulfillment centers…The business community is rapidly evolving to meet the economy’s changing needs, but our growth is undoubtedly hindered by a lack of adequate infrastructure and opportunities are often diverted to more urban hubs because of these deficiencies.”

The final 5.5 miles of Route 219 would connect Interstate 68 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This project is a bipartisan priority that has garnered the support of many Pennsylvanians in Somerset County and beyond. Last year, a new 11-mile stretch of Route 219 connecting Somerset and Meyersdale opened after years of local advocacy.

The full letter is below:

Dear Secretary Chao,

As elected officials, business owners, and community leaders from central Pennsylvania, we thank you for your commitment to rural infrastructure. Specifically, we were encouraged by the announcement of the Department’s newest initiative, Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES).

As you are aware, rural transportation networks are critically important to our nation’s economy. Yet many projects get overlooked or postponed due to a wrongful assumption that they lack a worthwhile economic benefit. As you work to address the unique needs of rural America, we respectfully request your office’s assistance with a project which would greatly impact central Pennsylvania.

Our region has recently benefited from an increased presence of manufacturers, warehouses, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. While these facilities have brought economic growth and revitalization, our roads and highways were not designed to handle the increasing levels of traffic and vehicle weight. The business community is rapidly evolving to meet the economy’s changing needs, but our growth is undoubtedly hindered by a lack of adequate infrastructure and opportunities are often diverted to more urban hubs because of these deficiencies. Additionally, the last 5.5 miles of incomplete highway have heightened safety issues.

To address the above-mentioned concerns and allow Somerset County, Cambria County, and the surrounding communities to maximize the region’s economic potential, we have long sought to connect Interstate 68 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike through the completion of Route 219. However, we lack the necessary resources to compete with our urban counterparts for adequate funding.  Any guidance your office can provide as we explore appropriate opportunities to address these needs would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you again for your attention to rural infrastructure. We look forward to working with you to advance economic opportunities through rural development.

Sincerely,

U.S. Rep. John Joyce, U.S. House of Representatives

Ron Aldom, Executive Director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce;

Joshua Boland, Executive Director of the Somerset County Economic Development Council

Commissioner Thomas Chernisky, Cambria County Board of Commissioners

G. Henry Cook, CEO and Chairman of Somerset Trust Company

Commissioner-Elect Colleen Dawson, Somerset County Board of Commissioners

PA Representative Matthew Dowling, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives

Steven Howsare, Executive Director of the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission

Commissioner-Elect Scott Hunt, Cambria County Board of Commissioners

Commissioner William “B.J.” Smith, Cambria County Board of Commissioners

PA Sen. Patrick Stefano, Pennsylvania State Senate

Linda Thomson, President and CEO of JARI

Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, Somerset County Board of Commissioners

Commissioner Gerald Walker, Somerset County Board of Commissioners

Jennifer Walsh, Executive Director of the Greater Cumberland Committee

Commissioner Mark Wissinger, Cambria County Board of Commissioners

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