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Bay area leaders in D.C. fighting for transportation funding

Bay area leaders in D.C. fighting for transportation funding
Posted at 12:21 PM, Mar 19, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Leaders from all across the area are in Washington D.C. this week fighting for transportation funding. 

A federal grant would help fund the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in St. Petersburg. 

The project costs more than $40 million but the federal grant would pay for nearly half of that. 

"Combined with state and local dollars, it would pay for improvements to the roadway, the new 60 foot articulated buses as well as the stations," says Cassandra Borchers with PSTA.

The Central Avenue BRT is considered a "premium" transit route. If funding is approved, the bus would take you from downtown St. Petersburg to Pinellas County beaches in about 35 minutes. 

"It mean access to jobs," says Tampa Bay Partnership CEO Rick Homans. "It means someone, in a predictable schedule with frequency, would be able to look at a wider area to seek employment. To me, that's the important thing to public transportation. It opens up additional opportunity."

Tampa Bay has never received a federal transit grant before but it's now up to Congress to distribute the funds. Tampa Bay leaders remain hopeful that they'll get the money for the project.

"Good transit, good transportation is good for business." says Homans.

The buses would be about 60 feet, 20 feet longer than what the PSTA buses are now. The project would also add designated bus lanes to the roads, in hopes of faster travel times. 

Homans says, "When we're gridlocked and bottlenecked that's bad for business. Overall, this is good for the economy and it's an important investment for any community to  make. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay hasn't made enough of this type of investment in the past and we hope that will change in the future."

Officials say the pilot route could develop into a bigger project, as well. They hope it will eventually connect Clearwater Beach, Tampa International Airport and other destinations in the future. 

You can read more from PSTA by clicking here.