Johnstown will not be mistaken for St. Louis anytime soon.

But before long, the two cities may have something in common: A “gateway arch.”

Johnstown officials have landed a $400,000 federal appropriation to build an arch, probably near the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center on Napoleon Street.

Many details remain unclear, including the arch’s final shape and size. While St. Louis’ famous landmark stretches 630 feet into the air, Johnstown’s arch may top out at 30 or 40 feet.

But Wednesday’s funding announcement brought applause from city businessman Mark Pasquerilla, who has pushed for the project for years.

“It will help to symbolize the renaissance of the downtown,” said Pasquerilla, the Crown American chairman whose father’s name graces the conference center.

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, said he earmarked the money in a bill that has passed through Congress and is awaiting President Bush’s signature.

Officials view an arch as the final piece of the city’s “renaissance project,” which included construction of the conference center and a new parking garage as well as renovations to the Cambria County War Memorial.

Ron Repak, Johnstown Redevelopment Authority director, said an arch was part of the original renaissance project design. Portions of those plans – such as a multiplex movie theater – fell through before construction began.

“That was the grand scheme of things, but certain things had to be deleted,” Repak said.

But it appears that Johnstown leaders now can have their arch.

Repak said an early proposal showed the structure stretching over Route 56 near Walnut Street, though no one is sure where it might actually be built.

“We haven’t absolutely locked down on a location,” Mayor Don Zucco said.

The state Department of Transportation surely will have a say in the matter. Officials also will have to consider traffic flow when determining a safe height and width.

“I think PennDOT and the city planners have to figure out an appropriate place,” Pasquerilla said. “Just so it’s somewhere appropriate in the downtown. I’m just grateful it’s going to be built.”

Pasquerilla added that the gateway likely would be built from brick or stone.

“It’s a very Old World piece of public architecture,” he said.

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