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Amtran considers capital projects

Firm looking at nine construction jobs

An architectural consultant Wednesday proposed that Amtran should consider nine construction projects costing about $1.7 million over the next couple of years.

The bus authority entertains such project lists periodically, so it can begin pursuing grants from PennDOT and the Federal Transportation Administration in time for the projects to be done when they’re needed, said Greg Elliott of EADS, who prepared the list.

Partly because construction project costs have risen steeply this year due to pandemic, and with many construction materials hard to get, Amtran is likely to undertake only a handful of the highest priority jobs for 2022, according to General Manager Eric Wolf.

Those are roof replacements on the bus maintenance garage, the Trolleyworks building and Battery Barn, and installation of a sprinkler system for the bus maintenance garage, according to Wolf.

In the next few months, in the course of drawing up a budget for next year, staff is likely to discuss those projects — which happen to be the most expensive ones — with PennDOT and the FTA, so it can prepare formal grant applications, while Elliott readies specifications and bid documents, Wolf said.

All three buildings currently have rubber roofs, although it’s not common for rubber coverings on seriously sloped roofs like those of the Trolleyworks and Battery Barn buildings, Elliott said.

He is proposing a rubber roof again for the flat surface of the bus maintenance garage, but standing seam metal roofs for the Trolleyworks building and Battery Barn to match the standing seam roof recently installed on the newly constructed auxiliary garage.

The roof of the bus maintenance building could cost $550,000, while the roof of the Trolleyworks building could cost $396,000 and the roof of the Battery Barn $148,000, Elliott estimated.

It might save money to do all three buildings at once, especially the Trolleyworks building and Battery Barn, whose roofs will be of the same type, Elliott said.

However, if one job needs to be postponed, that should be the bus maintenance garage, because its roof is still under warranty, Elliott said.

The idea for the sprinkler system arose as a recommendation from Amtran’s insurance carrier, according to officials at the meeting.

The carrier is concerned about potential fire loss with the buses parked in the garage every night, Wolf said.

They cost about $500,000 each, he said.

The system would only need to cover the bus storage and mechanical areas, Wolf indicated.

Will the insurance company raise premiums if the authority doesn’t install a sprinkler system? asked board member Tim Hite.

“It might over time,” Wolf said. “But we’re not looking at it as a money thing.”

Loss of buses would disrupt service, officials said.

And buses can’t be replaced quickly, Wolf said.

The sprinkler system replacement would cost $449,000, according to Elliott.

There was some talk about putting off one or more of those projects in hopes that costs will “moderate” in the next year or so.

But moderation isn’t likely, given the surge in construction projects being considered by municipalities due to competition for workers and materials created by the large inflow of money from the American Rescue Plan, said board member Bruce Kelley, a councilman for the city, which is receiving $39 million through ARP.

The other projects:

≥ Removal of the inground diesel fuel tank for $59,000, because the authority has nearly completed its move to compressed natural gas buses, because there’s risk of leakage from the approximately 20-year-old fiberglass tank, and because there are alternative ways to get diesel fuel for the remaining few buses.

≥ Replacement of the Trolleyworks’ 12-year-old HVAC system for $121,000;

≥Renovation of the mechanical system in the bus maintenance garage for $4,500;

≥ Sealing the south side of the bus maintenance parking lot for $5,000;

≥ Repairing the seldom-used former Roaring River Mills parking lot, where three are unsound sections that may need full-depth replacement, for $30,000.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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