At last! ATA schedules groundbreaking for proposed terminal

PUNXSUTAWNEY — After nearly six years of waiting, the day has finally arrived for the groundbreaking for the proposed Area Transportation Authority (ATA) terminal at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30 on North Findley Street.

John Lacny, ATA communications director, said those who has been involved in this project are pleased that the project is moving forward.

Punxsutawney Borough Council President Susan Glessner said despite the many delays, council members knew the project would get off the ground some day, although some members of the community may have thought otherwise.

“There were many members of the community who thought council had used poor judgement in tearing those other buildings down,” she said. “But we still felt that it was a very good project, even though it took forever to get to this point. In defense of ATA, the delays had nothing to do with them. It was due mostly to funding issues, and that the bids came in too high.”

Glessner said the reasons ATA took so long for construction to begin were legitimate.

“It’s still going to be an asset to the community, and I think with all the senior housing that is being constructed throughout the borough, it will be a bonus for the seniors, too,” she said.

Officials who have taken part in the planning and funding for construction of the facility will be on hand for the groundbreaking, Lacny said.

Jerry Bankovich of KTH Architects in DuBois said at the March 8 pre-bid meeting that there were three alternate bid packages based mostly on whether or not a tenant could be found to lease second-floor space, as well as how much funding ATA would receive from PennDOT and the Federal Transit Authority (FTA).

• 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.

Glessner said the borough partnered with ATA in the demolition of the former buildings that were located along North Findley Street: The Punxsy Beauty School, the Spencer Building and the Army-Navy Club.

ATA owns the property on North Findley Street where the terminal will be constructed.

Gabriel J. Uljon, ATA director of facilities and stationary equipment, said at the pre-bid meeting held it had been a long five years — now six — trying to get the terminal built.

“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 the IUP campus, he said.

Bankovich said ATA has gone through the entire historic district submittal and design process and would like to construct the base bid.

Uljon said at the pre-bid meeting that he anticipated storing four to five buses at the site, and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the bus terminal will be one of the regular stops on the buses’ routes.

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

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

Despite the many delays the members of council and community are excited for the groundbreaking of the ATA terminal building, Glessner said.