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October 20, 2022

Hogan announces funding for remainder of US 219 in Grantsville

Credit: Garrett County Republican, Brenda Ruggiero

Gov. Larry Hogan traveled to Grantsville on Monday to announce funding to complete the remaining eight-mile segment of US 219 between I-68 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which includes one mile in Maryland.

As part of the presentation, Hogan announced that this portion of road would be dedicated to retiring Senator George Edwards.

“It’s really great to be back in Garrett County,” Hogan said. “We’re spending four days in Western Maryland with some great announcements in every county…”

He spoke of the Appalachian Regional Commission meeting at Rocky Gap, which he chairs. He noted that the conference is focused on regional collaboration and fostering economic development.

“Today, we’re making an exciting announcement that does both,” Hogan said. “It involves working together with our federal, regional and local partners, and it will be a major boon for both the state and local economy. As chairman of the nation’s governors, I pushed for two years to broker a deal on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. And we’re proud that Maryland has one of the most aggressive implementation strategies in America. As a result, we’re announcing that we’re committing an additional $77 million to complete the US 219 extension from Old Salisbury Road all the way to the Pennsylvania state line.”

Hogan spoke of how Western Maryland is an important gateway to vital commercial corridors, and for decades, improving 219 has been the number one transportation priority for local leaders, businesses and residents of Garrett County.

“We heard the calls for action loud and clear,” he said. “So, at the very beginning of my administration we committed to finally get it done.”

He noted that in 2015, $2 billion more was invested in highways and bridges across the state, including $65 million for Phase 1 of the 219 Project. Working with the county, construction on that segment was completed from I-68 to Old Salisbury Road last spring.

“Now, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, we are realigning and expanding the final phase of Maryland’s eight-mile portion of the bi-state US 219 corridor,” Hogan said. “The completion of this project will have a dramatic impact on economic vitality throughout the north-south corridor. Millions of tons of freight move through Western Maryland every year, on I-68 I-70, I-81 and US 40 Alternate, and a fully upgraded and realigned US 219 will greatly enhance connections to these critical routes. It will give Grantsville residents better access points in Garrett County and in southwestern Pennsylvania.

“This project is another important step in the full vision for the Appalachian Development Highway System, a more than 3,000-mile multi-state network first established in 1965 to generate economic vitality in remote areas and to provide access to markets in the region and across the country.”

He noted that the project is a “shining example” of government at all levels working together. With that, he recognized Sen. Edwards as a “tremendous champion” not just for the 219 improvements, but for all of the top priorities of Western Maryland.

“He’s been a trusted and dedicated public servant in the state of Maryland for many decades,” Hogan said. “He’s been a true friend and partner with our administration. After 40 incredible years of service, he is retiring this year, and so in addition to today’s announcement that we’re going to be building this final phase, it is also my distinct honor to officially dedicate Maryland’s portion of US 219 to Senator George Edwards.”

Edwards thanked the governor for coming to Garrett County and for his friendship over a long period of time. He stated that when Hogan announced he was running for governor, he asked if there was anything he could do.

“I leaned over and I said yeah, you can finish the 219 project in Garrett County,” Edwards said. “Gov. Hogan said I’ll look into it.”

He noted that this is the kind of project he likes to do when you get all of the government working together to actually get something done. He mentioned the federal government, the state government and the county government. He also thanked Del. Wendell Beitzel, who was in attendance, and later mentioned assistance from Dave Moe, Colleen Peterson, Jennifer Walsh, Rep. David Trone and Sen. Ben Cardin.

Congressman Trone’s “Finish the ADHS Act” was included in the IIJA and ensured Maryland would have all of the funding necessary to fully complete Maryland’s portion of U.S. 219 North to connect I-68 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. First established over 50 years ago under the Johnson administration, the network was yet to be completed before this federal funding. Funds amounting $69,193,000 went to the project.

Construction should begin in 2028.

“Hopefully, it will be completed by 2031 and hopefully everybody here will be around by then and we can come back here and cut the ribbon and open this clear up,” Edwards said. “I’m honored. I really appreciate this. I wasn’t really asking for anything. I just like to see things get done.”

The new sign was then unveiled.

Hogan also spoke with several business owners and citizens who gathered at the event, including plaza owner Ben Reigsecker. He also toured Reigsecker’s newly-opened Casselman Market.

Also at the presentation were members of the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration.