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New St. Pete plan eyes trolleys, new bridge, USF focus | News

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New St. Pete plan eyes trolleys, new bridge, USF focus

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Downtown St. Pete's future could include trolley tracks, a new bridge over part of the bay, and a whole lot more.

A group hired to create a big vision for St. Petersburg's waterfront has turned in its final report.

Even if you don't live in Downtown St. Pete, there's a good chance you think of it as a fresh, fun, cool place. This new plan is all about making sure that thought never goes away.

A St. Pete streetcar is the first big idea in the final report from a team of urban experts exploring a master plan for St. Pete's waterfront.

They say the city should look at adding two streetcar lines, like the historic TECO Line Streetcar that connects Downtown Tampa to Ybor City.

St. Pete's trolley tracks would make a plus sign, crossing in the middle of downtown at Williams Park.

The next big idea? Connect two parks near the pier -- Vinoy Park and Spa Beach -- with a new pedestrian and bike bridge. Make it something dramatic: a work of art, the planners suggest. It would swing out of the way when a boat needs to get through.

And make southern downtown all about "HER." That's Healthcare, Education, and Research.

Places already in the area like All Children's Hospital, USF St. Pete, and Florida Fish and Wildlife's laboratories need room to grow, the planners say.

So, on the southern side of Albert Whitted Airport, bulldoze a water treatment plant and relocate some Coast Guard buildings.

That way the health, education, and research spots have more room to expand. These are high-paying, white-collar jobs any city would dream to have, so add more of them, the report says.

There are a ton of smaller ideas in the report, too. You can see more specific details by looking over the whole Downtown St. Petersburg Waterfront Master Plan Report by ULI.

The Urban Land Institute says its report is aimed at making the city even more livable and likable -- to keep downtown's recent resurgence going strong.

The study report gives no specific ideas for the future of the pier, since several other groups are working on that issue.

The next step is hiring a firm to turn this report into a real plan with maps and details. The City of St. Petersburg plans to hire that company in the next few months.

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