TREASURE ISLAND — Commissioners from this city unanimously voted to join a Forward Pinellas study that will recommend design alternatives to improve the safety of traveling along Gulf Boulevard from Treasure Island through St. Pete Beach whether by vehicle, foot, or human-powered means.

Assistant Public Works Director Stacy Boyles told city officials at a Feb. 15 commission meeting that Treasure Island had initiated a connectivity plan a little over a year ago. That plan specifically excluded Gulf Boulevard, since it is not a city road. “That’s something that can’t be done in a vacuum and requires close coordination with DOT,” she said, referring to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Then the city learned that St. Pete Beach officials were working with Forward Pinellas to look at Gulf Boulevard specifically.

“We were excited to hear that they were doing that, and started talking to Forward Pinellas as well,” Boyles said.

Boyles said the city asked Forward Pinellas, the county’s planning organization, if it could study the two corridors together, looking for efficiencies and cost savings.

“We’re really excited to have this opportunity. Working with Forward Pinellas and their consultant gives us the opportunity to make sure that the alternatives that are presented for safety and micromobility along Gulf Boulevard are vetted through DOT, so they are not making suggestions that can’t actually be implemented,” Boyles said. “They are also going to be looking at ways to cost-share some of those projects as well, or to get us on grant cycles for some of those projects.”

Micromobility refers to transportation achieved through low-speed human- or electric-powered means such as scooters, bicycles or skateboards.

She said traditional methods may not be the best. The study is “taking a fresh look at everything, saying, ‘What can we do to make things better?’ Hopefully we’ll come up with some creative solutions that we haven’t thought of yet.”

Boyles said the city’s strategic plan recommends the city “identify opportunities to enhance connectivity between the waterfront and downtown areas and create an improved environment for bikes and pedestrians.”

In her report to the City Commission, Boyles notes the plan is to initiate a similar scope of recommendations between both cities with the idea that suggested improvements will be eligible for grant or joint funding.

The boundaries of the Treasure Island portion of the study are approximately from Blind Pass Bridge to Johns Pass Bridge, she said.

The intent of this project is to develop a preliminary concept plan, not full-scale design, and to envision potential improvements for all modes of travel, including micromobility on Gulf Boulevard.

The Treasure Island portion will be conducted simultaneously with the St. Pete Beach Gulf Boulevard Conceptual Alternatives and Safety Study.

During the study, experts from Kimley-Horn and Associates, the consultant retained by Forward Pinellas, will analyze and summarize existing conditions along the Gulf Boulevard corridor, with the idea to develop possible alternatives.

Members of the public will get a chance to participate and voice their opinion. Forward Pinellas and Kimley Horn will conduct two public meetings to identify the community’s priorities and goals for the Gulf Boulevard corridor.

The first public meeting will be held to present existing conditions and will include information on a safety analysis and field conditions. Alternatives for improvements will also be presented to gain community feedback. The second public meeting will be held to present the final report and recommendations.

Kimley-Horn consultants will analyze and summarize safety-related conditions of the Gulf Boulevard corridors analysis. “The safety analysis will include a look at crash data from the last five years on Gulf Boulevard, with a focus on fatal and severe injury crashes, along with bicycle and pedestrian crashes,” Boyles said.

The study will also assess corridor lighting conditions and identify opportunities for enhanced multimodal connections to link transit stops near popular destinations or micromobility opportunities.

In addition, Kimley-Horn staff members will conduct field observations to cover midday and afternoon peak hours at specific corridor locations and assess pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic.

The field observations will focus on specific intersections and areas of safety concerns, high-traffic areas, major attractions, transit stops, and other locations, she explained. Specific field observation locations will be determined from the analysis results, public involvement, and stakeholder feedback. The study will analyze crash trends, frequency and types, with emphasis placed on identifying relevant contributing circumstances, such as lighting and pavement conditions.

Boyles told commissioners it is anticipated that the corridor will be organized into three segments based on context, travel demand, and land use characteristics. Kimley-Horn will develop a project summary for each corridor segment to assist in moving the project recommendations forward into the next phase.

The consultant will then prepare a final report for Gulf Boulevard within the Treasure Island city limits. The final report will include a summary and analysis of existing conditions. It will also recommend preferred conceptual alternatives and corridor improvements, phased to identify near-term, mid-term, and long-term actions.

City commissioners unanimously approved allocation of $58,805 to pay for the Forward Pinellas study.