The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority will now complete the study on the feasibility of an aerial gondola system connecting destinations in Clearwater and St. Petersburg by next year.
In February, the authority issued a request for proposals for a qualified planning and engineering firm to conduct the Pinellas Aerial Gondola Feasibility Study. The study would examine two potential aerial gondola routes in the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
“It will roll into 2022, it’s a little further than we desired, but we wanted to make sure we get it right,” Pinellas County Commissioner and TBARTA board member René Flowers said during a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board meeting Wednesday.
The feasibility study was born out of TBARTA’s 2019 innovation study, which involved the organization reviewing different transit technologies for the region such as hyperloop systems, sky taxis and gondolas.
The City of Clearwater previously said it wanted to investigate the feasibility of a gondola connecting downtown Clearwater to Clearwater Beach, with a possible stop near the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The City of St. Petersburg was also interested in the possibility of using a gondola system to connect the areas around Tropicana Field, the Innovation District and the Pier District.
Multiple gondola companies have pitched proposals to TBARTA such as Leitner-Poma, a Colorado company that specializes in building ski lifts works, and Clearwater-based BeachTran, which has long advocated to build a gondola system in Clearwater.
The purpose of the study would be to guide TBARTA, Forward Pinellas, St. Petersburg and Clearwater if the municipalities and groups wanted to move forward with an environmental assessment or a design/build contract, according to TBARTA’s RFP document.