FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2021
The City of Johnstown has been awarded a $24,448,164 U.S. Department of Transportation “Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity” (RAISE) grant to complete the “Iron-to-Arts Corridor Project.” The project’s focus is to restore Johnstown’s transit hubs and connect the community for downtown revitalization and heritage tourism.
Mayor Frank Janakovic conveys the excitement in Johnstown, “Johnstown’s infrastructure is magnificent, but it is a century old and needs reinvestment so that we can boost economic development, heritage tourism, job creation and access, and livability for the community. Johnstown is very pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation, backed by our region leaders, our state representatives, Governor Wolf, and our U.S. congressional delegation, will invest resources for Johnstown to revitalize our community with 21stcentury infrastructure.”
The total cost for the Iron-to-Arts Corridor project is just over $53 million with just under $29 million in state, local, philanthropic, other federal, and Amtrak funding already secured, with the remainder to be covered by the $24.5 million U.S. DOT RAISE grant.
Senator Robert Casey visited Johnstown on Friday, November 19 to deliver the good news to the community leaders at a press conference held at the historic Johnstown Train Station, together with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian, Amtrak Assistant Vice President for Stations & Facilities George Holz, and other key project supporters. Senator Casey says, “I am proud to say that Johnstown can begin to take action on projects vital to the economic health of the region. Not only will upgrading and restoring transportation hubs allow for more pedestrian movement, these projects will facilitate commutes for workers and increase tourism. As we build back better, investing in our Nation’s infrastructure is absolutely critical.”
Vision Together 2025 would like to thank the civic leaders who helped the Johnstown community secure this RAISE grant including, among others: Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey, Senator Pat Toomey, Representative John Joyce, Representative G.T. Thompson, Senator Wayne Langerholc, Representative Frank Burns, and Jennie Granger Louwerse, PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation.
Although the Johnstown train station, bus transit center, Inclined Plane and main street corridors have needed investment and improvement for some time, the Johnstown Iron-to-Arts Corridor was launched four years ago when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf asked Johnstown to bring consensus around a plan for catalytic projects which, if funded, would have the most significant economic and community impacts. Governor Wolf provided funding, from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, to create a “Johnstown Redevelopment Strategy” through Vision Together 2025, and to identify the catalytic projects that could make this vision a reality. This collaboration led directly to the RAISE grant awarded now. “An investment in infrastructure is an investment in people and communities. This project will revitalize transportation in and around Johnstown, and will benefit workers, businesses and the regional economy,” said Governor Wolf. “I was proud to support Johnstown’s application, and I thank the Biden Administration for recognizing the importance of this project for Johnstown and for Pennsylvania.” Johnstown is extremely grateful that Governor Wolf spoke directly with President Joe Biden about the importance of this Johnstown project when they were together in Scranton in October.
“This is wonderful news for the city of Johnstown and the Iron-to-Arts Corridor,” U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) said. “This historic investment will be an important catalyst for economic development not only in Johnstown, but Cambria County and the region. I applaud all the community stakeholders who came together to present a winning proposal, and I look forward to seeing these plans move into action.”
“This funding will directly support the Johnstown community as it continues to expand and reinvent itself in the 21st century. The ‘Iron-to-Arts Corridor’ pays tribute to the community’s historic past while also helping to expand access to local businesses and tourism,” U.S. Representative Dr. John Joyce (R-PA) said. “I am grateful to our local community leaders for their vision and diligence to ensure that these resources will be invested wisely in the future and continued growth of Johnstown.”
“I am proud of everyone who came together to create the Iron-to-Arts Corridor Project and helped us secure the RAISE Grant. By renovating and restoring these transit hubs, we are helping create upgraded facilities to better serve the Johnstown region’s 1.4+ million annual workers and tourism passengers,” says Vision Together 2025 Board Chairman, William Polacek. “This is the first grant that was a united front together with city, county, education, business, foundation, and civic leadership through Vision Together 2025 sparked by a capture team that is the essence of Vision Together. It’s a plan from the people.” Chairman Polacek adds, “This unified cooperation from leaders in the community is just the beginning of much more progress to come in the City of Johnstown.”
The Iron-to-Arts Corridor project will upgrade and connect Johnstown’s three downtown transit systems for visitors, residents, and commuters from all income levels: the Johnstown Train Station, the Inclined Plane transit system, and the Downtown Intermodal Bus Transportation Center. The four components of the overall Iron-to-Arts Corridor project:
- Johnstown Train Station: Renovations for the historic Johnstown Train Station include restoring it as a multimodal center with daily Amtrak, regional rail, and bus transit services. The city also seeks to utilize now-vacant portions of this upgraded station for uses that could include a new Johnstown Visitors’ Center, a healthy food and farmers market, and a retail transit-oriented development expansion, along with the newly-launched headquarters of the Artist-Blacksmiths Association of North America (ABANA) which located there earlier this year.
- Inclined Plane: The RAISE grant will also provide more funding, leveraging PennDOT investment, for the upgrade of the historic Johnstown Inclined Plane, restoring the passenger and vehicle funicular system to full function which will help boost ridership by 300% annually on this central CamTran transit link, further fostering an expanded regional tourism market and new economic development.
- Intermodal Bus Transportation Center: The RAISE grant funding for the CamTran Downtown Bus Intermodal Transportation Center will design and construct upgrades to this central hub for bus transit with passenger safety upgrades, station improvements, and mobility connections to the surrounding catchment area.
- Connectivity and Walkability among these transit hubs in downtown Johnstown: The RAISE grant for the Iron-to-Arts Corridor will also provide the funding needed to connect these transit hubs with complete street and pedestrian and bicycle trail upgrades, a component called the “Main Street Greenway & Urban Connectivity” initiative. This component of the project will improve walkability with 0.5 miles of complete street upgrades on Main Street including sidewalk, traffic calming, transit stop enhancements, ADA-accessibility, green infrastructure, and streetscape improvements. RAISE funding will also help this project connect key downtown segments of the Path of the Flood Trail and the Jim Mayer Riverwalk Trail, which will join these three transit hubs and key community anchors, as well as link Johnstown to the National 9/11 trail.
Beyond the U.S. DOT RAISE grant award, on Nov. 19 Amtrak will announce for the first time publicly that it will make an additional investment in the Johnstown Train Station to upgrade the train platforms and canopies, station accessibility, stormwater management and other key upgrades. Amtrak Executive Vice President Dennis Newman expressed that Amtrak is pleased to be part of the investment in passenger rail in Johnstown, saying “Amtrak is excited to join with the U.S. Department of Transportation to help improve the customer experience at the Johnstown Station and the vital support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal gives us additional confidence to make this investment. Amtrak and Johnstown can now say together that ‘the future rides with us.”
Community Foundation for the Alleghenies (CFA) President Mike Kane said the Foundation has been honored to support this project, including through a $7,500 grant this August to Vision Together 2025 for the economic impact modeling study that was a requirement for the application. “We talk about how our small grants, made possible through the generosity of our donors, create a big impact,” Kane said. “In this instance, we are delighted to see how one of those small grants created an avenue for our region to secure millions of dollars for change-making projects. We are deeply appreciative of every single CFA donor who makes this kind of grantmaking a reality for hundreds of nonprofits and initiatives like this one, and we are proud to live in a community where partners come together to make our region stronger.”
A final thank you from Vision Together 2025 to the 1889 Foundation for their continued partnership and support for the organization.
“The most important part of the RAISE grant is that it validates the cooperative spirit that prevails in Johnstown right now,” says Vision Together 2025 Vice Chair and Cambria County Planning Commission Executive Director, Ethan Imhoff. “Grants like this are only awarded to communities with a high degree of organizational capacity across business, governmental and non-profit sectors. It speaks to how far we’ve come, as these outcomes weren’t possible in Johnstown just a few years ago.”
Mark Pasquerilla, the Chairman of the Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership, the Chairman of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, which is the owner of the Johnstown Train Station, and a board chair at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies says “This grant will be transformational. We won this extremely competitive process because our community leadership worked together. Yes, we can and yes, we must!”