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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gondolas in St. Pete: Let the four winds blow



Last week, St. Petersburg made a splash by applying for a federal grant that would help pay for a gondola line from the Gateway to the beaches and down 34th Street to Eckerd College.

City transportation officials made the case that building up is a sensible solution to the city's transit challenges. It's cheaper than light rail and doesn't raise the spectre of dreaded eminent domain cases that widening roads will inevitably bring.

Yet the news made many Tampa Bay Times readers puzzle over one very Floridian hypothetical: Hurricanes.

Not to worry, said the city's transportation director Evan Mory. Mory explained that gondolas can safely operate in high winds (think about the winds coursing down mountains where the devices are most frequently used) , but are usually grounded when gusts reach more than 35 mph. 

The gondolas themselves can handle even higher winds, but passengers often balk at the swaying, which may make many feel more like their at the state fair than their daily commute.

As for the cables, their relatively thin profile and tensile strength are more than enough of a match for a hurricane, Mory said.

The city will learn if it makes it into the finals of the Smart Cities challenge grant next month. A winner will be announced in June.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 2:08pm]


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