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Transit authority remains hopeful about proposed hi-tech Clearwater bus facility

Veronica Brezina

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An aerial rendering of the new Clearwater facility for the electric fleet. Illustration provided.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority did not receive the $25 million request from the U.S. Department of Transportation it needs to build its new hi-tech facility in Clearwater – but there’s another route it can pursue.  

PSTA had applied for a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER grants, to build the $34 million transit hub.   

A rendering of the southeast view of the new terminal. The photo was provided by PSTA.

Last week, the U.S. DOT awarded nearly $1 billion in infrastructure funding, which includes funding for 63 capital grants. In the new RAISE round, two projects received the largest individual capital grants of $25 million (the maximum allowable limit) – the City of Manchester and the New Mexico DOT.

Although PSTA’s ask for $25 million was not approved by the DOT, the organization is hopeful the newly-signed infrastructure bill will be the way to proceed forward. 

“PSTA is encouraged by the U.S. DOT’s multi-funding source approach to infrastructure investment that will fulfill our need for a sustainable transit center to improve the quality of service for our customers and communities,” PSTA CEO Brad Miller said in a prepared statement to the St. Pete Catalyst. “With the truly transformational bipartisan infrastructure bill passed and signed into law, PSTA anticipates an increase in investment over our traditional allocation from the Federal Transit Administration to advance projects such as the Clearwater transit center.”  

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law last week. The bill would provide $550 billion of new federal investments in infrastructure over five years. 

If PSTA’s funding is fulfilled through the infrastructure bill, the planned 75,000-square-foot facility would be on a city-owned site at Court Street and Myrtle Avenue, per a land swap deal. 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replace PSTA’s current Clearwater facility, called the Park Street PSTA terminal, which serves 14 bus routes but is outdated and cannot accommodate electric buses. 

A rendering of the platform inside the new terminal. The photo was provided by PSTA.

The facility is needed as PSTA continues to build its electric fleet. By the end of the calendar year, PSTA expects to have 90 hybrids and eight electric buses. 

The new facility would also have a solar-paneled roof and charging stations through PSTA’s partnership with Duke Energy. 

PSTA is working with Boston-based engineering and construction firm CDM Smith Inc. on the design.  

PSTA had initially expected to begin the final design in summer 2022, start construction in 2023 and start operations in fall 2024. 

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