Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jetsons-like technology pitched as Clearwater Beach traffic solution

There's a second aerial passenger car system vying to be the savior to Clearwater Beach's traffic problems.

But this one is a little more futuristic than the gondola cable car system proposed by St. Petersburg developer Darryl LeClair.

On Thursday, Pinellas County resident Tom Nocera pitched a version of skyTran, a high speed, elevated, personal rapid transportation system that runs “jet-like” cars on magnetic levitation technology.

“It's going to be revolutionary in regards to this form of transportation,” Nocera said in his presentation to the Clearwater City Council. “It's the way of the future.”

skyTran is not yet in operation anywhere in the world, but a demonstration system is being built on the grounds of Israel Aerospace Industries in Lod, Israel, according to the company's website.

Nocera, who said he was an associate engineer on the launch crew for Apollo 11, said the technology is solar powered, economical because it only runs on demand, quiet and quick.

The conceptual drawings make it look like something out of a Jetsons episode, and Nocera made a nod to the theme by bringing a toy Jetsons car to his presentation.

The cars, which glide along an elevated rail through magnetic power, could carry at least 1,250 people an hour to the beach, Nocera said. He did not provide a cost estimate for the project.

He envisions using the soon-to-be demolished Harborview Center downtown as a loading station with the rail traveling above the Memorial Causeway bridge and looping at the beach. Nocera said the infrastructure could easily be extended, even to the Tampa International Airport.

To meet his goal of being in operation by Dec. 24, 2018, Nocera said he needs:

--A resolution of support from the Clearwater City Council

--Private funding

--A public/private partnership, partially to access to city right of ways

--The use of the city's drone to finalize the design

On Thursday, no City Council member gave any comments in support or against the skyTran project. And by the way, nothing else has been publicly discussed regarding LeClair's gondola proposal for Clearwater Beach since we last reported the talks in January.

But in February, St. Petersburg worked with LeClair to apply for a $40 million Smart City Challenge federal grant aimed at innovative transportation solutions. The city is pitching a tri-cable gondola to run south along Fourth Street from the Gateway area, west along First avenues N and S, with a spur to Tyrone Boulevard and on to Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach. Another spur would go south along 34th Street through the Skyway Marina District and end at Eckerd College.


[Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2016 7:26pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours