STATE COLLEGE — Hugh Mose had a hard time thinking of a word big enough to express his feelings about the $12.3 million federal grant the Centre Area Transportation Authority has received.
The State of Good Repair grant was announced Thursday and will be used to fund most of a $17.5 million addition and upgrade to CATA’s maintenance and bus storage facility in Ferguson Township.
The grant program assists transit companies with bus and bus facility maintenance, but Mose, CATA’s general manager, said that program will change, according to the most recent federal transportation legislation.
The program began with funding through earmarks, moved to competitive grants, and now will allocate funding based on a formula. Mose said CATA’s starting portion adds up to about $218,000, just under half the cost of replacing one bus.
“To be fair, there are other things about the new federal transportation bill that are advantageous to CATA,” he said, including funding options for replacing more aging buses. “Replacing that program and discovering our allocation is very small is disappointing.”
Despite that, this year’s grant will fund CATA’s latest project in a big way. It includes building a new, separate maintenance building, and rebuilding the current building to allow for more bus storage. Currently, not all of CATA’s 60-plus fleet can be stored inside.
“We really don’t have enough space for anything,” Mose said. “This was designed 20 years ago when CATA was much smaller. We have been fortunate enough that we have grown.”
The rest of the project funding will come from a $5 million state Department of Transportation commitment, and $200,000 in local funding from Centre Region municipalities, which pay $62,400 each year into a capital reserve fund for such projects.
Mose gave credit to local officials, who wrote letters of support for the grant, state legislators, and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, and U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson. He said CATA would not have received the grant without “strong statements of support.”
Casey and Thompson both praised the award Thursday. Thompson, R-Howard Township, praised CATA for its “continued vision and commitment to our community.”
“It’s an enormous relief,” Mose said. “If we hadn’t been successful this year, it’s not clear how we would’ve ever been able to get a grant of this magnitude.”
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter