Propelled with a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant and resolution of a state-funding glitch, the $6.4 million rehabilitation of Johnstown Inclined Plane is back on track.
“The design and engineering work will be at 90% by the end of October,” CamTran Executive Director Rose M. Lucey-Noll said. “The consultants are working on a revised schedule, but we do not have this information yet.”
The $500,000 matching grant announced last week is provided through the Historic Preservation Fund and the National Park Service is one of 42 grants awarded across the country and one of five in Pennsylvania.
Save America’s Treasures is supported by revenue from federal oil leases.
The funicular was last rehabilitated in 1983. Cambria County Transit Authority has been working on the current project for several years. Some work has already been completed.
The observation deck was upgraded in 2017. The motor was overhauled and a safety sheave wheel was replaced in 2018.
“We are excited to have received this grant from the Historic Preservation Fund and the National Park Service,” Lucey-Noll said. “There were a lot of people involved in helping to move this project forward, including the support from the community. It was truly a team effort that will ensure that the Inclined Plane will continue to be the cornerstone of tourism in the future.”
The rehabilitation was put in limbo for several weeks last year by a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Financing included grants from mass transit funds paid to PennDOT by the Turnpike Commission, as required under a 2007 state law.
The funding was originally enacted in anticipation of federal approval for tolls on Interstate 80. When the federal government rejected the Route 80 tolls, the turnpike’s payments to PennDOT were reduced from $900 million to $450 million a year through 2022.
But two trucking groups filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the transit funds were illegal and asking for a $5 billion refund.
Facing the lawsuit, the turnpike suspended the payments and PennDOT put some transit funding on hold.
But the U.S. District Court and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the truckers, so the payments resumed. Earlier this year, U.S. Supreme Court decided it would not hear arguments.