The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) was awarded $20 million in federal grants Wednesday, which will be used to construct a new Clearwater Transit Center.
The funds are part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program. The funding marks the first RAISE grant awarded in Pinellas County.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled that a new Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority transit hub is coming to downtown Clearwater,” U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said in a statement.
“Throughout my years as Representative of the people of Pinellas, I’ve proudly supported the modernization and expansion of PSTA. With the new SunRunner project launching this fall in St. Pete, and electric busses hitting the road in Clearwater, this transit center will serve as a nexus for a truly interconnected Pinellas. From the Gulf to the Bay, PSTA isn’t hitting the brakes any time soon.”
The grant will be used to construct a new transit center in Clearwater, which will be built on a city-owned vacant lot at the corner of Court Street and Myrtle Avenue. The plan includes 16 bus bays, bicycle and scooter storage, ride-sharing connections, ADA boarding requirements and an eco-friendly design with solar panels and electric bus charging stations.
The goal: create a new transit hub to link downtown riders to local beaches and beyond.
“This couldn’t be a more exciting day for not only Pinellas County and PSTA, but throughout the entire region, on receiving this federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation,” said Brad Miller, CEO of PSTA. “These funds will help replace a 40-year-old over-capacity existing structure with a new state-of-the-art sustainable transit center that will benefit the community, economy and our environment.”
The center will replace PSTA’s 40-year-old station at Park Street, which is considered functionally obsolete and in need of upgrades. The center serves 14 routes and 2,300 riders each weekday, but is unable to accommodate all the current routes, forcing some bus operators to pick up and drop off passengers on side streets. Newer hybrid and all-electric buses also cannot fit under the old, leaky roof.
“After years of trying to get the funds to replace the old Park Street terminal, this new transportation hub will be an absolute game-changer,” Pat Gerard, Chair of the PSTA Board of Directors, said in a statement. “This will make it easier for people to reach Clearwater, and our beautiful beaches. It’s a big win for our community, local business and future redevelopment plans.”
The remainder of the project will be funded by the City of Clearwater, FDOT, Forward Pinellas and PSTA. Construction is set to begin in 2023.