Five years later, ATA pre-bids terminal project

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Five years after the idea was officially proposed, a pre-bid meeting was held Tuesday for the Area Transportation Authority (ATA) terminal along North Findley Street.

The project could begin within the next couple of months, depending on the bids and a second-floor tenant.

“Punxsutawney is a hub for us, but we think if we construct a terminal here, we will attract more passengers,” especially with the expansion of IUP’s Punxsy campus, said Gabriel J. Uljon, ATA director of facilities and stationary equipment.

Jerry Bankovich, of KTH Architects of DuBois, said there are three alternate bid packages based mostly on whether or not someone is willing to lease the second-floor space, and how much funding ATA will receive from PennDOT and the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) to construct the building.

• Base bid — Construct a two-story building on North Findley Street.

• Alternate No. 1 — Eliminate the second floor, and construct just the first floor.

• Alternate No. 2 — Construct a two-story building with a reduced first floor.

• Alternate No. 3 — Construct a single-story building with a reduced terminal.

Bankovich said the bids are good for 90 days, and the alternates will be chosen based partially on the amount of funding received, and whether or not there’s a second floor tenant.

“We’re hoping that it won’t take the entire 90 days to get the project underway,” he said, adding that the last time the project was approved to be put out to bid last year, the contract was awarded and the project was a go.

But Uljon said at the end of the 90 days, the second-floor tenant withdrew from the project, which then came to a halt.

At the same time, the cost of square footage went up in price, Uljohn said.

ATA’s funding sources said it would withdraw from the project because it cost too much, Uljon said, adding that ATA has a new possible second-floor tenant.

“We’re going to find out very soon within the next month whether or not the potential tenant is serious,” he said. “If not, then we’ll have to look at the single story alternate.”

Bankovich said ATA has gone through the entire historic district submittal and design process and would like to construct the base bid.
“The two-story building works the best; that is what we’re shooting for,” he said.

Uljohn said even if a single story is built, it will be constructed so a second story could be added at a later date.

Punxsutawney Borough Council member Roger Steele asked Bankovich if ATA has taken into account the widening of Torrence Street and the reconfiguration of the Pine Street intersection by PennDOT. Bankovich said ATA’s curb cuts were approved by PennDOT.

Borough Manager Ben White asked how many buses will be based at the terminal. Uljon said he anticipates four to five buses at the site throughout the day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The terminal will be one of the regular stops on the buses’ route.

There will not be a fuel station at the terminal, Uljohn said, but that buses will obtain fuel from a contractor at a separate location. Buses will be washed at a facility in DuBois.

Bankovich said that the largest bus that would utilize the terminal would be a charter size.

Once the terminal is constructed, charter buses would be welcome to use the facility as a location to drop off and load passengers, Bankovich said.

The borough partnered with ATA in the demolition of the former unsightly buildings located along North Findley Street, which included the former Punxsy Beauty School, the Spencer Building and the Army-Navy Club.

Steele said it’s approaching six years since council and ATA have been working on the terminal project.

Uljon said there will also be some spaces available to lease on the first floor that could be taxable.

The bids for the terminal project are due March 22, with construction to begin within 90 days of approval, if not sooner.