Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Opposition Grows Against Bus Rapid Transit Project as Its Cost Increases to $44 million

Tampa, Fl

From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

Pinellas County Transit Agency PSTA seeks over $21 million from the Federal Transit Administration and additional funds from the Florida Department of Transportation for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

But opposition is growing against the BRT project. Two (S Pasadena and St Pete Beach) of the three municipalities along the BRT route formally oppose the project as opposition grows in the city of St. Petersburg.

The BRT project PSTA called Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) does not run along Central Avenue but along 1st Avenues North and South in St. Petersburg. It duplicates existing PSTA service that does run on Central Avenue.

The costs of this BRT has increased $2 million to $44 million since PSTA submitted their federal grant request less than 2 years ago. The project is such a mess that the design costs have doubled. PSTA estimates this project will gain about 1500 new riders. At a cost of $44 million, that is about $30K per new rider.

When the project started, it was estimated to cost $16.5 million and now the cost has exploded to $44 million.

PSTA's CA BRT removes valuable lanes of vehicle traffic and valuable parking for bus only lanes along 1st Avenues North and South and S Pasadena Avenue. PSTA is removing general lanes of traffic as Florida Department of Transportation is requiring PSTA to go through their lane elimination process - that PSTA tried to weasel out of doing.

In 2017, PSTA only approved a route from downtown St. Petersburg to 75th Avenue in St. Pete Beach. However, PSTA submitted a federal grant request for a route from downtown St. Petersburg to the Don Cesar on St. Pete Beach that put a 60 foot bus on narrow, congested Gulf Blvd.

When St. Pete Beach residents found out about this project, they showed up en masse at their city commission meetings vehemently opposing. St. Pete Beach commissioners respected the voice of their constituents and passed a formal resolution in opposition to the project, stating it must end at 75th Avenue and not go down Gulf Blvd and requested the FTA to stop further action on the project.

PSTA never told St. Pete Beach they submitted their federal grant request in August 2017 that included the BRT route down Gulf Blvd ending at the Don Cesar using a monster 60 foot bus. PSTA also did not tell St. Pete Beach their grant request had falsely included St. Pete Beach as a funding partner when St. Pete Beach never agreed to fund the CA BRT.

When S Pasadena residents found out the CA BRT project was removing a lane of vehicle traffic along congested S Pasadena, they also requested their city commission to oppose. S Pasadena commission also passed a resolution opposing the CA BRT.

Numerous condo associations and homeowners associations in St. Pete Beach and S Pasadena have passed resolutions opposing PSTA's CA BRT project.

Gulf Blvd is a State road and PSTA continues ignore St. Pete Beach residents and their elected representatives. PSTA is now trying to end the CA BRT route at a congested beach access parking lot Pinellas County owns on Gulf Blvd in St. Pete Beach.
Latest CA BRT route from downtown St. Petersburg
 to a County owned beach access parking lot in St. Pete Beach

Here is a 15 minute podcast about this latest PSTA mess.

Time for some adults in the room to step up and stop PSTA's costly, congestion creating CA BRT project that uses road diets to take away valuable lanes of vehicle traffic.

Posted by Sharon Calvert at 10:21 AM 

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.

Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

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