PennDOT has awarded a $1.29 million multimodal grant to help the city renovate the downtown transportation center.
The money will go for public safety and connectivity improvements, renovating utilities, installing new wayfinding and access signage, updating passenger spaces and transfer areas and providing more reliable passenger access. The facility is a hub for rail and bus service.
“I’m beyond thrilled,” said Mayor Matt Pacifico, who said he’s been “talking to anyone who would listen” in Harrisburg to promote the project.
The city has applied to PennDOT twice for the multimodal money, and it has also applied for project funding twice to the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Just this week, City Council also authorized a fifth application — to the U.S. Department of Transportation, for a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant for the project.
Potential improvements include:
* Creation of a public gathering and event space that could be used by downtown groups, such as ones connected with the residential towers.
* Replacement of the deteriorating glass block and skylight wall along 13th Street with conventional steel frame construction.
* Replacement of the door and window assemblies at the 10th Avenue entrance, the door at the 11th Avenue entrance, the door to the parking garage and various interior doors.
* Creation of a series of flex spaces with the use of movable partitions in what is now the main lobby, which would mean a smaller, more consolidated train and bus passenger waiting room closer to the Amtrak and Greyhound ticket counters.
* Replacement of floor finishes throughout and plumbing fixtures and stalls in the restrooms.
* Replacement of the curved roof and window assemblies on the 10th Avenue pedestrian crossover, along with the roof of the stairway between the crossover and the Amtrak loading platform.
* Removal of some of the Amtrak platform roof and rehabilitation of the rest of the roof.
* Exterior walkway repairs.
The project no longer includes a proposal for “white box” office space that could be rented to a nonprofit organization, city Public Works Director Nate Kissell said.
The PennDOT grant that the city will receive will require a 30%, or $556,000 match, Kissell said.
The total project cost, based on the PennDOT grant application, is $1.8 million.
Inflation since the city applied for the PennDOT funding has increased the projected cost of the work to $2.2 million, as reflected in the RAISE grant application.
For now, the city will proceed with design in conformity with the PennDOT grant proposal, according to Kissell.
As that work proceeds and as specifications are made, officials will learn what sort of “value engineering” may be needed to bring the project within budget — or what additional funds will need to be found to complete it, Kissell said.
It’s possible the RAISE effort could come into play, he said.
It will take eight to 10 months for design, Kissell predicted.
Norfolk Southern will need to review the plans, because it will involve work on the Amtrak passenger platform near the tracks.
A renovated transportation center will complement the likely addition of a second round-trip Amtrak passenger train between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh via Altoona, said state Rep. Lou Schmitt, R-Altoona, in an emailed statement.
“It is a piece of the puzzle that would continue Altoona’s rail history well into the future,” Schmitt wrote.
The facility is “key to the downtown revitalization of the city,” stated state Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, in the same email. “These much-needed renovations to the center will make it safer and more reliable,” she wrote.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.
In the works
A turning lane in Allegheny Township and improvements for vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic in Claysburg were also among 56 projects in 28 counties were selected for $47.8 million through the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund.
Area projects include:
* Allegheny Township — $454,704 to improve traffic flow and accommodate truck turning at Theater Drive and Route 764 by adding a 300-foot right turning lane on Theater Drive, upgrading the existing signal, completing drainage improvements and moving utilities.
* Blair County commissioners — $2 million to improve a section of County Road 101 for vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian use between Railroad and Hickory streets in Claysburg. Improvements include correcting drainage issues; replacing existing curb and sidewalk with ADA ramps; relocating overhead utilities; milling, overlay, and base repair; and line painting.
* Portage Borough — $443,000 for the fifth phase of the borough’s streetscape program to establish pedestrian connectivity and improve pedestrian safety with new sidewalk, curb and ADA ramps.
* Summerhill Township — $241,361 to relocate 2,962 feet of Shaft Road from Donald Street to the bottom of Wilmore Heights Road to connect from Donald Street to the top of Wilmore Heights Road, a distance of 1,800 feet.
* Houtzdale Borough — $575,417 to improve sidewalks and provide lighting for safe pedestrian access along Hannah Street and enhance the connection between the Central business district and the Houtzdale Line Rail Trail.
* Penn Township — $119,176 for rehabilitation of Melody Road and Kratzer Run Road to increase safety for motorists and pedestrians.
* Southern Huntingdon County School District — $1.1 million for infrastructure improvements along Pogue Road, adjacent to the high school/middle school campus in Cromwell Township. Improvements include the creation of two new driveways to the campus, rehabilitation of the existing driveway and the construction of deceleration and turn-lanes.
* Boggs Township, Centre County — $350,000 for safety improvements to a curve along Curtin Hollow Road, including reducing the vertical elevation of the road at the curve.
* SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority — $894,000 to replace two adjacent bridges spanning Moose Run in Milesburg with a single structure that can mitigate the significant flooding the borough experiences.
* Snow Shoe Township — $234,380 to rehabilitate 3.8 miles of six rural township roads that carry vehicular, ATV and UTV traffic.
* Bradford Township, Clearfield County — $706,188 to widen the road and replace Egypt Road Bridge, a deteriorating one-lane bridge, heavily-traveled by campers and school buses, with a two-lane box culvert to accommodate wider vehicles. The project includes improvements for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
* Curwensville Borough — $589,832 to repair, mill and pave nine borough streets.
PennDOT evaluated the applications and made selections based on such criteria as safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency and operational sustainability.