In July, 2020, TBARTA completed an Innovative Transit Technologies (ITT) Feasibility Study. as the first step toward evaluating three emerging technologies: aerial gondolas, air taxis and hyperloop. The ITT Study detailed each technology’s current development, their intended operational and service capabilities, and their potential.
One recommendation was to explore local interest in pursuing an aerial gondola project in a specific corridor. TBARTA and Forward Pinellas (the Land Use and Transportation Planning Agency for Pinellas County) met with leaders from Clearwater and St. Petersburg, and each city expressed interest in examining separate corridors.
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The Pinellas Aerial Gondola Feasibility Study will examine two potential corridors/routes in the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, with a target completion date of Fall 2022. The corridors are not in competition with each other; the study will assess each corridor based on its own merits, needs, and feasibility. The purpose and intent of the study’s report is to provide TBARTA, Forward Pinellas, the City of St. Petersburg, and the City of Clearwater with sufficient information to decide whether to continue consideration of one, both, or neither corridor. Potential recommendations include advancing to a more detailed environmental assessment or a design/build contract.
This project will conduct a rigorous, detailed, and unbiased analysis of each corridor that determines:
- What is the purpose or need of a gondola (i.e., strategic goals) in each proposed corridor?
- What areas of each city should the gondola service?
- How much will it cost to build a gondola operation, and who will pay for it?
- Once the gondola is built, who should own and operate it?
- What will be local government’s financial obligation to the gondola service?
- What technically valid aerial gondola options exist to meet each city’s purposes and needs?
- Which of those valid options is superior (the so-called “Preferred Alternative”) and how do we define “superior?”
- What are the technical, economic, social, environmental, and political ramifications of implementing the Preferred Alternative?
- Should the agency proceed with one, both, or neither of the Preferred Alignments?