The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is moving full steam ahead on its plan to create a new downtown Clearwater terminal for its electric fleet.
The organization has applied for a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant. PSTA is asking for $25 million through the RAISE grant, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER grants.
The new 75,000-square-foot, $34 million transit hub would be on a city-owned site at Court Street and Myrtle Avenue. It would replace PSTA’s current Clearwater facility, called the Park Street PSTA terminal, which serves 14 bus routes but is outdated and cannot accommodate electric buses.
PSTA has 88 hybrids buses and six fully electric buses. By the end of the calendar year, PSTA expects to have 90 hybrids and eight electric buses in its fleet.
The new facility would also have a solar-paneled roof and charging stations through PSTA’s partnership with Duke Energy.
The site is also next to a CSX rail line, which was previously used to carry print products for the Tampa Bay Times and aggregate for a plant.
“We [the city] bought that property due to the CSX line … The MPO [Metropolitan Planning Organization] looked at buying the CSX line as a potential location for light rail. It was low-hanging fruit, there were only two trains a week – one carried newsprint down to the Tampa Bay Times and another carried aggregate for a concrete plant,” PSTA board member and Clearwater councilmember David Allbritton said during a city council work session on Monday. “The problem is CSX wanted to sell the entire Tampa Bay region line, which didn’t just include Pinellas County, and there wasn’t a desire from the region to buy the entire line.”
A PSTA spokeswoman said the new facility would likely be able to accommodate future possible light rail if it ever came to fruition.
Meanwhile, the city is interested in PSTA’s current lot on Park Street to build a future home for City Hall.
The land swap agreement is currently being finalized between PSTA and Clearwater, a PSTA spokeswoman said.
PSTA is working with Boston-based engineering and construction firm CDM Smith Inc. on the design. The remaining $9 million PSTA would need in addition to the $25 million grant would be funded through municipalities.
The organization will have a press conference Thursday morning at 710 Court St. in Clearwater to discuss the grant and details about the project.
PSTA expects to begin the final design in summer 2022, start construction in 2023 and start operations in fall 2024.