PSTA moves forward with Clearwater facility; CEO gets pay raise

PSTA’s current bus facility on Park Street has a number of issues, including that its roof is barely high enough to allow hybrid buses to pass under it.

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Board of directors unanimously approved a contract Feb. 24 for preliminary engineering and final design services for a new multimodal facility in Clearwater.

Directors also approved with a vote of 12-2 a 4% pay raise for CEO Brad Miller. County Commissioner Kathleen Peters and citizen appointee Joshua Shulman from St. Petersburg voted no.

Multimodal facility

Abhishek Dayal, director of project management, said the design services contact with CDM Smith Inc. is for a not-to-exceed amount of $2.3 million for Phase 1, which includes design consultant collaboration with PSTA and other stakeholders on space needs, architecture and project costs.

Four proposals were submitted and evaluated by a five-member team including three from PSTA, one from the city of Clearwater and one from Pinellas County.

The estimated cost is $20 million to $24 million with 80% being paid by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the remainder split between Florida Department of Transportation and PSTA with the land contributed by the city of Clearwater.

PSTA received $1 million from the Federal Transit Administration in 2010 for preliminary engineering and design services for the project.

Dayal said the current Park Street facility has been in operation since 1982. It serves 12 bus routes. The facility has capacity issues as well as roof issues, meaning the hybrid buses are almost too tall to clear the roof.

The new facility would be built on land owned by the city near Court Street and Myrtle Avenue, which has easy access from major streets and would allow for future expansion. Dayal said the property is adjacent to the CSX rail line and could provide for passenger rail service in the future.

The new multimodal facility would include 16 dedicated bus bays with enhanced passenger amenities along with technology upgrades including information about bus arrivals and departures. It would have improved pedestrian access as well as accommodations for bike/scooter share, ride-hailing, taxi and ride-sharing services.

The new facility will include a charging infrastructure for electric buses and be built using a green building design with solar panels and more.

Planning and preliminary engineering is expected to begin this spring with the final design slated for the summer of 2022. Construction should begin in 2023 with the new facility becoming operational in 2024.

Employee compensation

Directors also approved a pay raise for CEO Brad Miller and approved a new compensation and evaluation procedure that will be used for all non-until employees in the future.

The personnel committee recommended that Miller receive a 4% increase in pay, as PSTA strives to up his compensation to be more in line with his peers.

Miller currently makes $203,888 plus benefits. His new pay will be $211,044 with the same benefits.

Two directors voted against the increase, Pinellas County Commissioner Kathleen Peters and Joshua Shulman, citizen appointee from St. Petersburg.

Directors also approved a new process that will be used to calculate pay raises for all non-union employees including the CEO in future years.

Raises will be given in October based on an annual budget adjustment. In January employees with outstanding achievement will get a second bump up in pay. Employees that do not perform satisfactorily will not receive either pay increase.

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