PA: CamTran hires contractor to solve Inclined Plane issues; deck work progressing

Feb. 26, 2024
Conroy Engineering, a firm that has completed work on Pittsburgh's hillside inclines in recent years, has just started looking into the issue.

Feb. 24—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Cambria County Transit Authority has hired an outside contractor to solve issues at the Inclined Plane that halted the more than $15 million project in November.

Conroy Engineering, a firm that has completed work on Pittsburgh's hillside inclines in recent years, has just started looking into the issue — making three site visits over the past two weeks, CamTran Director Rose Lucey-Noll said.

She said the firm is still conducting examinations and fact-finding, partnering with CamTran's consultant, to try to figure out what's preventing the Inclined Plane cars from moving properly.

"Right now, everything is happening in real-time, and if they see something, we'll find out about it. We'll get a detailed report," Lucey-Noll said.

She said officials from PennDOT recommended Conroy.

Conroy was hired at $95 hourly at a cost not to exceed $34,000, Lucey-Noll told The Tribune-Democrat following the board's monthly meeting.

The issue was first discovered around Thanksgiving, during a time period when crews were using the cars to move equipment and supplies for track work, CamTran's director said last month.

The issues were spotted during a pre-inspection process that is conducted each morning before operating the Inclined Plane's cars, she said.

Edgehill 'deck' work progressing

Steel needed to finish repairing the Inclined Plane's "waiting area" observation deck has been fabricated to replace deteriorating discovered midway through the project.

Contractor Mosites Construction plans to get back to work the first week of March to finish repairing the 1980s-era concrete platform, which overlooks the city, serves as a waiting area for riders and is a popular tourist draw.

Lucey-Noll said that puts the deck project on track to be finished in late May.

"We're pleased about that. That's good," she said.

It's still too soon to tell how long the main Inclined Plane work will be delayed by the stoppage, Lucey-Noll said.

The project was initially eyed to be completed in 2022, but has been setback by delays, including supply issues and issues replacing century- old parts with new fabricated replacements.

Lucey-Noll noted what makes the furniculars so special is also part of what makes them challenging to maintain and repair.

The landmarks are engineering marvels from a long-gone era.

In Pittsburgh, the Monogahela Incline was out of service twice over the past several months — first for five weeks of repairs in late 2023 and then again, just two days after reopening in January.

The second stoppage, due to multiple electrical and mechanical failures, kept the 1970's-era Pittsburgh landmark out of order for nearly six weeks, the Pittsburgh Union Progress reported.

After issues were identified, Mosites and its subcontractors made certain repairs at no charge to Pittsburgh Regional Transit, the agency reported at the time.

CamTran gathered more than 230 responses over the past few months on a series of conceptual designs for a new downtown transit center, Lucey-Noll said.

The authority and planners are still reviewing the feedback as part of an eventual goal to narrow down plans to a few options they can consider more closely.

The drawings, which are still viewable on CamTranbus.org, suggested a list of different options, including those with and without parking decks and various transit center layouts.

One proposes expanding the property to the corner of Main and Clinton streets, replacing the current glass-front addition recently occupied by InforMedx.

Lucey-Noll said future public meetings will be planned.

"It's still very early," she said, noting that none of the concepts even looked at cost, which will be a major factor in the project. Lucey-Noll said CamTran still must obtain funds for preliminary designs before the authority can start exploring any of the options much further.

___

(c)2024 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.)

Visit The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.) at www.tribune-democrat.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.