The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will study public transportation improvement in south St. Petersburg, an area marked by poor transit connections but high public transit reliance, after receiving federal government funding.
The Federal Transit Administration announced this week that it has doled out approximately $16.2 million to fund 40 projects in 32 states. Among them is the authority’s South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area Mobility study, awarded $360,000.
The funds are part of the administration’s Areas of Persistent Poverty program, which assists communities in creating better transit for low-income areas, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Every American should have a way to affordably get to work or school, buy fresh food, access medical care, and visit their loved ones — and these transit grants will help make that a reality in 40 underserved communities across the country,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
The South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area, which covers more than 4,700 acres, was established in 2014 to promote housing reinvestment, commercial growth and workforce development. As of 2019, more than one-quarter of all area residents were at or below the federal poverty level, and 82% of residents were non-white or of Hispanic origin.
The mobility study is slated to cost $400,000, according to the grant application. Beyond FTA funding, the Florida Department of Transportation is chipping in $20,000, and the authority and city of St. Petersburg are each providing $10,000, said Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority CEO Brad Miller.
“Transit incentivizes economic development,” Miller said, adding that the study will help identify points where public transportation efforts can help address racial equity, environmental justice and barriers to opportunity for residents of south St. Petersburg.
The Areas of Persistent Poverty program supports the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the benefits of federal climate-related investments to disadvantaged communities. The program is pitched as part of a broader effort to advance racial equity and improve public health and the environment through transportation planning.
The Federal Transit Administration said it received applications totaling close to $63 million in funding requests. The Pinellas project was the only Florida-based initiative to receive grant money in this round of awards.