ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract Jan. 29 for construction of a bus turnaround facility at the Pinellas County Beach Access Park off Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach.

The contract with Odyssey International Inc., doing business as Odyssey Global, is for a cost not to exceed $378,000, which includes a 10% contingency.

PSTA Chair Joe Barclay, a Belleair Bluffs commissioner, said that the contract’s approval was an “historic action,” as it is the first construction project for the agency’s bus rapid transit project.

Abhishek Dayal, director of project management, explained that the new turnaround would serve a two-fold purpose. In the beginning it will provide a place for the existing Central Avenue Trolley service to turn around, and in the future it will be used as the last stop for the Central Avenue BRT.

When the city of St. Pete Beach opposed plans to have the BRT travel through its city, it also dropped its contract with PSTA for trolley service. The Central Avenue Trolley then shortened its route in December and began turning around at the Don Cesar Hotel. The new turnaround at the county’s beach access parking lot will replace the turnaround at the Don Cesar.

Construction is expected to begin in February with completion in June 2020.

PSTA received two bids for the project. Odyssey Global was the lowest at $343,381. Tampa Contracting Services Inc. bid $392,515.

In addition, Odyssey had the highest commitment for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Participation.

Al Burns, director of procurement, said every federally-funded project requires a DBE goal for disadvantaged business participation. PSTA had set a goal of 11.82%. Odyssey committed to a 66% goal, which has a value of $225,992.

The project will be paid for with PSTA’s capital reserves that have been allocated for the BRT project. Funding is included in the overall $43.9 million price tag.

PSTA anticipates it will recoup construction costs with money from a Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts grant and funding from the Florida Department of Transportation. FTA sent a “letter of no prejudice” to PSTA on Jan. 15, stating that the project is eligible for reimbursement.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.