Inclined Plane pedestrian bridge work OK'd; deteriorating steel found in observation deck

Jan. 27—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A second round of bids will allow work on the pedestrian bridge at the base of the Johnstown Inclined Plane to get underway this spring — and at a lower price than an earlier round of bids had indicated.

But deteriorating steel under the observation "waiting deck" along Edgehill Drive at the top of the Inclined Plane will add $180,713 to another portion of the project, Cambria County Transit Authority Executive Director Rose Lucey-Noll said.

Lucey-Noll said Mosites Construction & Development Co. contractors discovered that structural steel was deteriorating within the concrete platform, which was first built in the 1980s.

"It's like when you're working on an old house," she said, noting that issues can be hidden until layers of material — in this case, concrete — are ripped away.

She said the ongoing Inclined Plane repair project had a built-in contingency fund to cover unforeseen change orders. That will cover part of the cost, while the authority had to turn to other funds to cover the rest.

Meanwhile, a bid for the pedestrian bridge project, at $550,300, came in at a savings compared to an earlier bid that had to be rejected in October.

The cost wasn't the main concern with the original $563,623 bid, which didn't meet CamTran's electrical specifications, Lucey-Noll said.

This time, three companies submitted bid for review and approval in January, Lucey-Noll said. Pittsburgh-area industrial contractor MCK Construction's $550,300 bid was the lowest. The highest, rejected bid was more than $950,000.

The bridge crosses over Route 56, connecting downtown Johnstown to the base of the Inclined Plane, which has been closed for repairs for three years.

Lucey-Noll said the pedestrian bridge work is primarily structural rehabilitation to extend its life for decades to come.

MCK Construction will be notified about the project, and once necessary paperwork such as insurance documentation is confirmed, it will be able to get to work.

Lucey-Noll said the work will likely cause changes to traffic patterns on Route 56 near the Inclined Plane.

That could mean reducing traffic lanes at times, and the company will also be responsible for obtaining any necessary highway approvals and providing workers to direct traffic, if needed.

More than $15 million in work has been underway since early 2022 to revamp the 1891-built funicular.

Lucey-Noll said it was too soon to speculate what impact the additional work on the observation deck, if any, could have on the project's completion date.

She said an update on the entire Inclined Plane project will be released soon, possibly next week.

The work was initially expected to be completed by summer 2023, but production issues delayed the work.

In other business, Lucey-Noll was surprised with an award during CamTran's Friday meeting, recognizing her for for three decades of service. She joined the organization 30 years ago this week.