Clearwater will get a new transit hub after the final bundle of funding is secured
Pinellas County commissioners voted 4-2 to give up to $8 million to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for construction of the facility, which will be completed by late 2024 or early 2025.
Clearwater will be getting an updated transit hub, as the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority got the final pool of money needed to move forward with the project.
On Tuesday, Pinellas County commissioners voted 4-2 to give up to $8 million toward the construction of the hub, depending on the need on the back end of its construction.
The overall cost of the project is estimated to be around $44 million, according to the transit authority. More money is coming from the federal government, city of Clearwater, the authority itself, and Forward Pinellas, a county transit organization.
The authority's CEO, Brad Miller, says the old facility that's still in use is too small and too old.
"The roof of the transit center was built too small, and too short, for the modern buses we have today that are hybrid and electric,” Miller said. “They have batteries on the roof. Our trolleys that have a higher roof, they can't fit inside of the current facility, and that's really why we need a new modern facility."
The facility opened in 1981. Miller said at that time, two transit facilities in the county were merging into one, which would ultimately become PSTA.
“They almost immediately realized it was too small of a facility, just in its scope,” Miller said. “And then over the years is we've just really outgrown it.”
The current facility is still heavily in use, according to Miller, as one of the most popular stops in the county.
“It's just not very respectful for the thousands of commuters who are passing through this center in downtown Clearwater to get to their jobs out on the beach,” Miller said.
He also said the bathrooms are always out of order, the customer service booth is too small, and other systems are not functioning properly.
Possibilities for the transit hub really ramped up when the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the authority with a $20 million grant, which it had been vying for for years.
“Pinellas had struck out 12 times before, so now we're 1-for-13,” Miller said.
Miller says if everything goes to plan, the new facility will be completed by late 2024 or early 2025, and it’ll be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, environmentally sustainable hub.
The new location will be on the corner of Court Street and Myrtle Avenue, while the city of Clearwater will take control of the old location on Park Street.
Pinellas County commissioners Dave Eggers and Kathleen Peters voted against the funding. Peters expressed concern about the county pulling money from its 1-cent sales tax dedicated to infrastructure improvements.