BRADENTON -- With a Manatee County Area Transit blue bus in the background, county and city officials cut a red ribbon Friday to celebrate the opening of the new downtown Bradenton transit station, following months of delay due to last-minute design changes.
"I couldn't be more excited about this," said Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston. "We have great partners. ... We think it's important that it's as beautiful as it is."
The station features five 25-foot tall, 10-foot wide art
murals, Foxtail Palm trees, benches, public restrooms, information and ticket booth and an automated ticket vending machine.
As of 5:30 a.m. today, it is expected to be serving routes 2, 3, 4, 9, and 99. Customers will be relocated from the stop near the Manatee County Historic Courthouse to the new station on 13th Street West, between Sixth and Eighth avenues.
"It's no secret that we've had some setbacks," said Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The $2.4 million station's opening was delayed months due to median modifications. The former MCAT manager believed a blue decorative median should be moved a few feet west in order to increase the space for buses to pass each other safely.
"Congratulations on opening this MCAT transit facility," said Jennifer Stults from Florida Department of Transportation's District 1. "It's gorgeous. ... This new facility will improve the transit experience for MCAT customers."
The stop by the courthouse had people "constantly crossing the busy street in between buses," Gallen said. The new station has a bus-only lane with an artsy blue fence in the middle. On the west side of the fence is a lane exclusively for passenger drop-off/pick up and for emergency vehicles.
Public officials cheered as the bus with the word "Special" written on the marquee exited the station after the ceremony.
The station will be open from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamValverde.