PINELLAS PARK — The concrete pavement began crumbling even before the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority finished building its new headquarters in 2005.
Now, seven years and a massive lawsuit later, the concrete will be replaced. The PSTA board voted last week to spend about $6.4 million to replace the concrete, including the bus parking area, the entrance and exit to the bus parking area, and the bus stop out front.
Construction is expected to begin late next month and take about 18 months. It will be done in phases to minimize disruption.
"This is a landmark step in what has been a multi-year-long process to correct a significant problem," PSTA CEO Brad Miller said in his monthly email report to county and city officials.
Most of the construction costs — $3.8 million — will come from a $6.1 million court settlement the PSTA reached last year with four companies it blamed for the concrete failure. The remainder will come from a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Transportation Administration and a $1.1 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security.
The transportation department grant is earmarked for improvements that were not part of the original design, including drainage and added thickness to the pavement.
The Homeland Security grant is earmarked for security upgrades designed to ensure protection of the PSTA buses, yard and maintenance area from security threats.
The PSTA decided in 2001 to spend about $36 million to build a new headquarters on 36 acres at 3201 Scherer Drive in unincorporated Pinellas at the northeastern edge of Pinellas Park. It replaced PSTA headquarters at 14840 49th St. N in Clearwater and a garage at 28th Street and Seventh Avenue S in St. Petersburg.
But even before the PSTA moved into the headquarters, the 530,000-square-feet of concrete began failing because, bus officials said, it was only 6 inches thick instead of 9 and had no barrier underneath to help with drainage.
The situation deteriorated as the PSTA's 200 heavyweight buses moved in and out of the facility every day.
In 2006, the agency sued the architect, the engineer, the general contractor and the construction manager.
"Everybody seemed to be at fault," PSTA spokesman Bob Lasher said.
The suit was settled last year for a total of $6.1 million with each of the defendants paying a different amount, ranging from $300,000 to $3.7 million.
The replacement concrete will be 9 inches thick and will have a drainage system as well as other improvements.
"It's essentially going to be like an airport runway," Lasher said.
Reach Anne Lindberg at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.