The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (MDOT/SHA), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have collaborated on a Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) study. This study is currently underway for the US 219 corridor which extends approximately eight miles from the southern end of the Meyersdale Bypass in Somerset County, Pennsylvania south to Interstate 68 (I-68) in Garrett County, Maryland. The study area encompasses portions of Elk Lick and Summit Townships in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and the northeastern corner of Garrett County, Maryland. The study area is mostly rural, with residential and small commercial facilities, as well as larger amounts of forested areas and farmland. The Borough of Salisbury, Pennsylvania is located within the central portion of the study area.
The PEL study is conducted as part of planning, and occurs prior to and separate from NEPA. During PEL, no "project"-studies are conducted to determine if a potential project exists. Data collected and analyzed during the PEL study can be used during future project development, as funding for improvements becomes available. PEL allows for an analysis of optional study alignments, and consideration as to whether portions of those alignments can be cleared environmentally, designed and constructed as stand-alone independent projects. Stand-alone projects identified during the PEL study must have independent utility, have logical termini and not restrict potential options for future reasonably foreseeable transportation improvements.
PEL studies must adhere to the regulations formalized in the Statewide Transportation Planning; Metropolitan Transportation Planning; Final Rule (23 CFR 450), which describes how transportation planning study decisions and results may be used to be consistent with NEPA. In addition, this PEL study was developed using the following Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance:• Guidance of Using Corridor and Subarea Planning to Inform NEPA, April 5, 2011
• A Reference for Linking Planning & NEPA, Version 1.0, September 20, 2013
• Planning & Environment Linkages Implementation Resource, September, 2008
A PEL study “acknowledgement” from the FHWA was issued on July 21, 2016. The PEL document is available on the website and in public repositories throughout the project area.