St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman penned a strongly worded letter to St. Pete Beach Mayor Alan Johnson Wednesday afternoon, making a case for the proposed Central Avenue BRT project and threatening to move on with the project without St. Pete Beach’s approval.
The letter comes after the St. Pete Beach City Commission appeared hostile and unwilling to compromise with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s latest iterations of the project, made in response to St. Pete Beach residents’ objections to large bus sizes and preferred termination of the route.
As previously reported by the St. Pete Catalyst, the commission objected to BRT on St. Pete Beach and pushed PSTA to terminate the route at 75th Avenue. The commission said St. Pete Beach could employ its own transit option to get passengers to other stops on the island.
The commission scheduled an emergency meeting for Thursday morning to consider a resolution against the project or to sign an interlocal agreement only if PSTA agrees to terminate service at 75th Avenue.
Kriseman stated that the Commission’s demands were not acceptable, as it “would significantly lower ridership and put the entire project in jeopardy.”
“These provisions do not represent an acceptable compromise to the original plan,” wrote Kriseman. “It significantly waters down the original plan far beyond the compromise we would accept which would still meet the needs of our respective communities and our region.”
Kriseman also stated that if St. Pete Beach refuses to compromise, the City of St. Petersburg would consider the original draft of the interlocal agreement at its own City Council meeting Thursday afternoon, putting larger 60 foot buses and the previously explored routes, including service terminating at the Don CeSar hotel, back on the table.
Kriseman implored Johnson to consider both local and regional interests of the project.
Read Kriseman’s full letter below.