Amtrak elevator up and running

Failed pressure test kept car out of service since July

News from Altoona recently gave a Gallitzin native, who lives in Philadelphia, a holiday season lift: The Amtrak elevator connecting the 10th Avenue pedestrian bridge with the passenger loading platform has been fixed.

The elevator had been inoperable since July when it failed a pressure test.

Mary Rubino, who wrote to Amtrak in September complaining about the problem, which forced passengers to lug their bags up the steps to the bridge or rely on help, received a letter from Amtrak at the end of November saying the problem was rectified.

“YEAH TEAM,” Rubino wrote to the Mirror this week. “I guess we are living right.”

The failed pressure test — in which the hydraulic cylinder that lifts the elevator car is subjected to a hard hydraulic push “to see if it pops” — disclosed a bad seal, according to an Amtrak spokeswoman who talked to the Mirror several months ago and Lee Slusser, the city’s community development director and chief staffer for the Altoona Re­de­velopment Authority, which operates the Transportation Center.

Further examination by Eastern Elevator showed there was also a leak in the piping that connects the pump room under the platform stairway with the cylinder, which is directly under the elevator car.

A check by Keller Engineers, called in by the authority as a consultant, confirmed there were two separate problems, despite initial skepticism by authority members, Slusser said.

Because the leak in the piping was in a section embedded in a concrete floor, workers installed new piping overhead to connect the pump room and cylinder, so they didn’t need to jackhammer the floor and to ensure that fixing a leak in the future would be easier, Slusser said.

Workers still needed to drill holes in two poured concrete walls, each perhaps 4 inches thick, for the overhead piping, Slusser said.

The engineer specified where the workers should drill to avoid hitting rebar or compromising the structural integrity of the wall and the lintel over a door, Slusser said.

The total repair cost was $44,800, Slusser said.

“Elevators are scary,” because of their cost, he said.

The authority paid the bill out of its general fund, he said.

The city will reimburse the authority from its general fund, Slusser said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.