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PSTA Gets Grant for Project Linking Downtown St. Pete and Beaches

Pinellas Bus | Bus | Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

The $1.2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration will act as seed money to kick off the project, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has announced the award of $1.2 million in federal funding for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority to kick-start the development of the county’s Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project.

“Investing in our infrastructure is key to moving our community forward. The BRT will better connect our community, opening new opportunities to residents and tourists alike through more accessible and efficient transportation options,” Crist said. “I look forward to continuing to support the great work and innovative programs being led by PSTA, and will keep fighting in Washington for the smart spending needed to improving our local transit systems.”

Pinellas County Commissioner and PSTA board chair Janet Long said, “We are thrilled for this exciting news and victory for our community as it is an incredibly competitive grant program. Being selected for this grant speaks to the regional support and overall quality of the BRT project in Pinellas County. This again demonstrates the importance of partnership and continues to show what we can get done when we work together.”

The BRT project will create an 11-mile corridor connecting Pinellas beaches to downtown St. Petersburg for the benefit of residents, tourists, and workers. Crist said he has fought for full funding of the Federal Transit Administration, which awarded this $1.2 million grant and is responsible for allocating the full $16.5 million slated for the entire BRT project.

Centrral Avenue BRT | PSTA | Map

The Central Ave BRT will complement local service provided by the existing, and highly successful Central Avenue Trolley by providing expedited, limited stop travel from downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches, seven days a week on First Avenue N (westbound) and First Avenue S (eastbound).

The trolley route will continue to serve numerous destinations along the corridor, while the proposed BRT will serve only major stops in the corridor, cutting the current transit travel time from St. Petersburg to the beaches by more than a third.

The Central Avenue BRT is planned to open in late 2020/early 2021. PSTA, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (aka Forward Pinellas), and the City of St. Petersburg partnered together and requested funding to identify strategies to advance transit oriented development along the corridor while preserving affordable housing and small businesses, enhancing bicycle and pedestrian connections, and improving economic conditions.

“High quality transit depends on easy walking access to destinations and a sufficient amount of density to make the service cost-effective,” said Whit Blanton, Executive Director of Forward Pinellas. “This grant will enable us to fully benefit from the investment in the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit service.”

PSTA CEO Brad Miller said, “We are always working toward growing the local economy, reducing traffic and promoting a car-free lifestyle. Our BRT project is a key strategy toward accomplishing these goals and this grant allows it to go from a great project to an elite project.”

This pilot BRT route will be the first of what may ultimately be a future network of rapid transit services connecting Clearwater Beach, Tampa International Airport, and other key tourist destinations and economic centers.

Route map courtesy of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

Charlie Crist | PSTA | Bus Rapid Transit | Transportation | Tampabay News

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