Bidding for the excavation project to complete Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale could begin as early as this year.
Since the project is already under design, the bidding for the next step — which is the earthwork portion of the project — will be bid late this year or early next year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The earthwork portion will cost about $160 million.
PennDOT spokesman Dennis Buterbaugh said that dozers and other heavy equipment will be utilized to align the ground to accommodate the four-lane highway.
"That's a big part of the project," he said. "Since it is already under design with that part already in motion it will help move things along."
There is not a complete timeline for the project as officials are still reviewing the language in the recently signed federal transportation bill.
The bill, with the help of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, changed the language on toll credits to allow them to be used as the state match for federal dollars for Appalachian Highway Development System projects. The bill also allows these projects to be 100 percent federally funded instead of 80 percent federal and 20 percent state. States earn toll credits for spending money to improve toll roads such as the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The total cost of the project is about $300 million.
On Tuesday Republican Gov. Tom Corbett pledged his support for the project and thanked Shuster for his efforts in changing the language of the transportation bill in a press release.
"I certainly share Congressman Shuster's enthusiasm in making this project happen and I pledge to do all I can to help Route 219 be completed as soon as possible," Corbett said in the release. "Congressman Shuster and I know how important a four-lane, limited access Route 219 will be for the economy of Somerset County and the entire Southern Alleghenies Region."
A telephone message left at his press office for additional comment was not returned Tuesday.