Cambria County Transit Authority and U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Blair, have submitted a $6.16 million request for federal funding that, if received, would be used to purchase 10 new buses.

The congressional designation was made through a new Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure process in which U.S. House of Representatives members can submit applications for specific highway and transit projects to be included in the FY2022 surface transportation reauthorization bill.

“As long as member-designated projects are available, I will make sure that our communities get their fair share,” said Joyce during a visit to the authority’s headquarters in Johnstown on Friday. “And that’s so important for the project that we proposed to the Highway Trust Fund, which would allow 10 new buses to be purchased by CamTran over the next three years.”

The member-designated process was introduced for FY2022.

“This is kind of the earmark program that’s been brought back,” said Josh Yoder, CamTran’s assistant executive director. “We decided to take advantage of that, given the need for public transportation, how integral we are in Cambria County and the City of Johnstown.”

The request needs to go through the congressional approval process.

But CamTran Executive Director Rose Lucey-Noll said the designation alone is “really huge.”

“We know if we go in on our own, it’s a very competitive process,” Lucey-Noll said. “And it’s very hard for small urbans and places like that to get buses.”

Yoder said receiving the funding would be “a real big benefit,” since buses cost approximately $600,000.

Joyce and Lucey-Noll talked about the importance of public transportation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when essential workers have been using the services. CamTran has also provided free rides to people going for vaccines. They expect those services to continue as life returns to normal.

“This is the pathway through the pandemic to be able to provide people the opportunity to get to work, to get to school and to get us through this pandemic,” Joyce said.

He has requested $13,560,000 combined for four member-designated transportation projects in the 13th Congressional District.

The Congressional Research Service, a public policy institute of the U.S. Congress, summarized the new designation policies, stating “The House Committee on Appropriations and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure have separately announced that individual Members may request funding for specific transportation projects. This ends an effective ban on earmarks that has been in force in the House since 2011.”

Among them, Joyce, in conjunction with Vision Together 2025, has asked for $1.5 million that would be used for upgrading a half-mile segment of Main Street in downtown Johnstown.

“Improving Main Street will help to stimulate market activity and contribute toward breaking the current trend of economic decline,” Joyce wrote in his request letter. “Revitalizing downtown Johnstown is a foundational component of the community reinventing itself into a 21st century city.”

Joyce has also asked for $4,45 million in Community Project Funding, a process similar to – but separate from – requests made to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for FY2022.

Those requests include $750,000 for Johnstown Flood Museum upgrades, $100,000 for UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Twin Lakes’ Recovery to Work Program and $79,000 for the Johnstown Police Department’s mobile office technology project.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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