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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gondolas in Clearwater?



Imagine soaring over the Intracoastal between downtown and Clearwater Beach in an elevated cable car, all those suckers gridlocked in peak Spring Break traffic on the Causeway bridge beneath your feet. Think Aspen ski slopes style. 

The car you're flying in even has an endearing name – a gondola.

It's an idea that's been tossed around before, not just for Clearwater's dreaded beach traffic but to connect the Tampa Bay region as a whole.

Just two years ago, St. Petersburg developer Darryl LeClair was shopping his idea for a gondola system around Tampa Bay, peaking the interest of Clearwater officials desperate for traffic solutions, according to Mayor George Cretekos. Nothing ever came of it. 

Now the potential for gondolas may be floating around again. On Monday the Clearwater City Council will discuss traffic solutions at its regular work session (1 p.m. at City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave, for anyone interested).

Cretekos said the time is now to figure out once and for all how to alleviate gridlock on the beach during peak season – and those solutions could take many forms.

Turning E Shore Drive and Poinsettia Avenue into one-way streets; broadening Coronado Drive into four lanes by eliminating the side parking; convincing businesses to have employees park downtown and either carpool or water taxi to work; beefing up police presence to keep pedestrians from darting across traffic. 

Or...figure out a funding model that could finally bring gondolas to Clearwater.

“There is a public/private partnership initiative that is going on, and the intention is for the elevated transit to happen from Clearwater Beach to downtown to Clearwater/St. Petersburg airport and then to Tampa,” Council member Doreen Hock-DiPolito said Tuesday.

Hock-DiPolito stressed this is all tentative.

But she confirmed LeClair is one developer in very early conversations with the city. And there may be more to come. 

“Those conversations are going to be coming up,” she said.

Check out later in the week for a more in-depth look into gondolas.




[Last modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 1:45pm]


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