Tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m., the Tyrone pedestrian walking bridge will be dedicated to the late John P. Conrad, a 30-year Tyrone resident, an engineer who had also dedicated his life to serving others.
Conrad graduated from Penn Cambria High School in 1974 and received his bachelor of science civil engineering degree at Penn State University in 1979. He was a Professional Engineer licensed to offer railroad bridge and railroad consulting engineering services. Conrad had Class I railroad experience with Chessie System Railroads in West Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois from 1979-1984 as a structures inspector and then CSX Transportation from 1984-1988 as a structures supervisor. From 1991-2002 Conrad was a partner in Uni-Tech Consulting Engineers in State College. He then was a sole proprietor as a railroad consulting bridge engineer. He consulted, inspected, or led bridge construction projects for 36 railroads and 580 bridges, across multiple states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Texas.
One of his last projects in Tyrone was the Tyrone Underpass Project for the Nittany Bald Eagle Railroad, Bridge #0.24 over West 10th Street. Despite signage, the bridge had been struck multiple times by trucks resulting in damage the bottom lateral and anchor systems. The last impact had moved the 12 foot, 6 inch high bridge 7 inches. Raising the bridge and repairing and relocating steel structures were completed in 2015 to restore bridge integrity and vertical clearance and to reduce possibilities of further occurrences. The bridge was raised to 14 feet, 6 inches and was a $1,986,836 project.
Conrad passed away February 11, 2019 after a valiant fight with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
In addition to his career, Conrad was active in his community at St. Matthew church, where he was vital from conceptualization to the finished product in the addition of the gathering space, refinishing of the sanctuary, and adding onto and improving the church school. The gathering space added many opportunities for fellowship and mission. He also went on two mission trips to Haiti, helping to build fish ponds and a school. He was a member of the Tyrone Hospital board, where he was instrumental in helping them through a time of financial difficulty.
Conrad was involved in the Penn State Altoona Railroad Engineering Program. He served as a guest speaker several times and enjoyed working with the students.
Along with this honor, in 2018 the Loyalsock Creek Railroad Bridge was dedicated in Conrad’s name by the Seda-Cog Joint Rail Authority, “In Gratitude for Superior Bridge Design and Construction Management.”
An endowment was created at the Penn State Altoona, The John P. Conrad Rail Transportation Engineering Research Fund and Award. The Joint Rail Authority and North Shore Railroad created this award $25,000 from each entity and $2,500 each year will be awarded to a faculty chosen student in the Rail Transportation Engineering Program. The award will help a student learn about Conrad’s profession, and benefit from his legacy of helping others learn and achieve their potential.
Conrad was a family man who loved his children and proudly told everyone the latest exploits of his grandchildren. His ties to his parents and the lessons they taught him were strong. A favorite motto from his paternal grandfather was: “Be conservative with yourself and don’t be liberal, but be ultra-liberal with your fellow man.”