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Hillsborough transit agency asking Legislature to fund maintenance facility

Funding to construct a new heavy maintenance facility tops the list of projects officials with the Hillsborough County Area Regional Transit (HART) are asking state lawmakers to prioritize during the 2018 Legislative Session.

HART CEO Katharine Eagan announced Monday that she and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Seward will travel to Tallahassee Wednesday to meet with legislators about their session priorities.

Eagan says the top priority is an appeal for funding to rebuild HART’s 21-acre heavy maintenance building at the Ybor City 21st Avenue Operations and Maintenance facility.

The cost of the project is approximately $20 million.

“The facility is old. It’s reached its useful life and it’s in need of very significant repairs,” said Lynda Crescentini, program manager with the transit agency.

She says that entire roof of the building needs to be replaced. Poor lighting, poor air circulation, and extremely narrow walkways are just some of the problems that require repairing, told HART’s finance and audit committee on Monday morning. And there has been significant flooding issues over time, as reflected in photos used in her presentation.

Eagan told board members that state and federal dollars would fund the project, and “we’ll put in for some local funding.” She also said HART would be inquiring about getting funding from the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB).

Seward says that regardless of how accommodating the feds and Tallahassee view HART’s funding requests, the building is dilapidated, and the transit agency needs to replace it. “If we can keep the amount that we have to come up with at the local level under $5 or $6 million, we can go out on the commercial paper market; we can do some short time financing,” he said.

Seward and Eagan said that the region’s recent skirmish with Hurricane Irma has to be a boost in their efforts for new funding.

“That building obviously would not have withstood a direct hit,” Seward said.

A HART operations and maintenance feasibility study produced in June offered options for planning, including small, medium and large scenarios, and costs rising with each choice.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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