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FDOT awards $655K grant to enhance ferry service

Ashley Morales



A rendering of a PSTA-wrapped ferry. Image provided.

More than a half million dollars is coming to Pinellas County to improve Clearwater’s ferry service.

The Florida Department of Transportation recently approved a $655,000 grant request from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency (PSTA). PSTA requested half the cost to enhance the waterborne transportation services connecting Clearwater and Dunedin. According to the FDOT grant application, the project is a collaborative effort between PSTA, the City of Clearwater, the City of Dunedin and Forward Pinellas.

$655,000 is the anticipated total commitment from Clearwater and Dunedin, with the FDOT grant covering the other half of the project cost. The combined $1.31M will fund four days of 10-hour service per week over three years. 

Clearwater Ferry Services Inc. currently runs a loop between downtown Clearwater, Clearwater Beach and Dunedin. The service is primarily limited to the weekends but was temporarily expanded to seven days during the opening of Coachman Park. The ferry benefited from a $1 million appropriation in this year’s state budget.

“We are incredibly thankful for the Florida Department of Transportation for these funds to enhance the Clearwater Ferry,” said Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer of PSTA. “ We are looking forward to meeting with leaders to develop a game plan to best serve citizens and tourists of Pinellas County.”

The ferry project aims to leverage waterborne transportation to alleviate traffic congestion by transporting service industry workers to jobs on the beach and visitors wanting to travel between the beach and the mainland. The FDOT grant application specifically identifies the Memorial Causeway and Alt 19 between Dunedin and Clearwater as high-traffic areas, noting, “This ferry system will serve transit-dependent workers who need reliable transportation to employment centers. This service will be especially vital as a transportation alternative during Spring Break when travel times on the Memorial Causeway bridge increase significantly due to increased visitor traffic.”

The FDOT application also states that along SR 60 between the Memorial Causeway Bridge and Myrtle Avenue (a major half-mile roadway segment close to the ferry stop in downtown Clearwater), there were 612 crashes between 2015 and 2019. According to the City of Clearwater, more than 50,000 vehicles drive through the Clearwater Beach roundabout on a typical day during spring break. Local leaders believe increasing the capacity of the ferry service will, in tandem with other multimodal transportation options, reduce crashes and traffic congestion in tourism-heavy areas.

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