PA: Inclined Plane work stops while efforts underway to ID, solve issue

Feb. 2, 2024
Cambria County Transit Authority Executive Director Rose Lucey-Noll said on Wednesday that the organization has been working since late November to solve an issue "directly impacting" the movement of the Inclined Plane's cars — without success.

Feb. 1—Construction work on the Johnstown Inclined Plane has come to a halt, according to officials.

Cambria County Transit Authority Executive Director Rose Lucey-Noll said on Wednesday that the organization has been working since late November to solve an issue "directly impacting" the movement of the Inclined Plane's cars — without success.

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, she said.

Lucey-Noll said that issues were spotted during a pre-inspection process that is conducted each morning before operating the Inclined Plane's cars — but she said she could not elaborate on what raised the concerns.

"We don't know what's causing this," she said, noting that until that is known, officials can't develop a plan to fix it or estimate the price tag or timetable.

The more than $15 million project was 92% complete when the concern arose, and for safety reasons, that won't change until CamTran can solve the mystery, Lucey-Noll added.

She said the board is following the advice of consultants and industry experts.

They've also turned to those organizations, as well as PennDOT, to find an outside expert company with experience "in this type of work" to inspect the Inclined Plane, identify the problem and develop a report outlining what should be done.

That hasn't been easy, between the holiday season and the unique situation of having a vehicular inclined plane of this kind — a rarity even among funicular railways, Lucey-Noll said.

"CamTran is working closely with its industry experts, inspectors, PennDOT and independent third-party consultants to review and analyze the issues of concern," she said, adding that they are taking a team approach to find the right organization.

Only then will CamTran get a clear picture on how much the delay will set the project back, she said.

She noted, however, that even once the Inclined Plane is fully repaired, there will still be several months of testing and employee training to complete.

The Inclined Plane project already was set back due to delays in acquiring specialized, custom-made parts for the funicular in late 2022.

Last week, a $180,713 change order was approved to allow the construction company Mosites to replace additional steel that was found to be deteriorating within the concrete of the observation "waiting deck" along Edgehill Drive at the top of the Inclined Plane.

The project to rehabilitate the Inclined Plane is the first renovation of its scale since the 1980s.

"The safety of everyone involved in the rehabilitation project, the community and reopening of the Inclined Plane remain CamTran's top priority," Lucey-Noll said.

She acknowledged that many people in the community are "invested" in seeing the multi-year project come to a long-awaited completion.

"Once we know what the issue is, we'll let people know," she said, "but we cannot move forward now. ... Safety has to be our No. 1 concern."

Lucey-Noll confirmed on Wednesday that the project's stoppage won't prevent work on the Edgehill Drive deck or the pedestrian bridge above state Route 56 in downtown Johnstown from moving forward.

Work continues on the concrete deck, while CamTran approved a more than $550,300 bid last week to begin repairs this spring on the bridge that connects downtown to the base of the Inclined Plane.

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