Welcome to the Treasure Island Causeway

A Guide to Financial Sustainability

Update: A contract with Atkins North America for professional services was awarded December 6, 2016. The Commission pursued a legal opinion as to whether the City is able to reinstate tolls should it desire to do so before authorizing the Phase IA Work Authorization. The legal opinion was provided in March of 2017, stating that there are no known legal impediments to reestablishing a toll on the Causeway.

A work authorization was approved for Phase IA on April 4, 2017. Phase IA provides an assessment of the financial needs of the Causeway, traffic analysis, and an assessment of funding alternatives (including options other than tolling) and concludes with a long-term financial plan for the Treasure Island Causeway.

On April 4, 2017, the Commission requested a statement in writing from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to verify that there are no issues as far as FHWA is concerned regarding the City reinstating tolls should it desire to do so as recommended through obtaining the legal opinion. On August 18, 2017, the City received a response from FHWA that was unclear and on September 5, 2017, the City Commission placed a 3-month pause on the project to await further clarification from FHWA. Clarification was sought through Williams Law Firm who specializes in transportation issues, however, was unable to obtain and as a result the City Manager sent FHWA another letter asking for clarification.  FHWA responded that the City was unable to reinstate tolls unless certain exceptions were met. In the FY 2019 Budget Federal and State Lobbying Services were funded to enable the City to pursue legislative changes to allow the city the ability obtain funding or other options to support the maintenance and eventual replacement of the causeway/bridge.

Subsequently, the City submitted a funding request to the legislature for East Causeway resurfacing and drainage improvements in the amount of $1.5M. The funding was approved for $1.2M and in addition to the resurfacing and drainage improvements will allow for the northern portion of the roadway to be shifted south to enable a trail to be constructed without relocating the utility boxes. Constructing the trail without having to relocate the utility boxes helps to make the trail project funding feasible and funded by FDOT to the City of St. Petersburg.  The City of Treasure Island and City of St. Petersburg will be coordinating the East Causeway Improvements and Trail projects to take advantage of cost savings by doing the projects simultaneously. An inter-local agreement was approved by both City Commissions and staff is working on finalizing the design of the project.


Home

Welcome

This guide will identify potential funding sources for the operation and maintenance of the Treasure Island Causeway and its bridges through the 75-year life span of the bascule bridge, including its replacement. If tolling is ultimately selected as a preferred funding source, the guide will be amended to explore tolling fee structures and toll gantry locations and designs.

How to Get Involved

Public input is critical and actively being sought throughout the Causeway study. Your input will be used to help inform the City Commission prior to critical decision points. Thank you for your involvement!

As the Treasure Island Causeway study progresses through the steps of identifying revenue alternatives and potentially re-implementing tolling, the community will play a key role in providing input that will help City leaders make decisions such as:

  • The selection future Causeway revenue sources;
  • Tolling fee structures, including potential passes; *
  • The electronic toll gantry location; and *
  • The design of the electronic tolling gantry. *

          *These decision points will only occur if a tolling revenue alternative is ultimately chosen.

Over the course of the study, there will be multiple community engagement activities for the public to participate in. Community engagement activities will allow people living, working and visiting the City of Treasure Island and surrounding communities to contribute to the decision-making process.

To view upcoming community engagement activities, click here.

If would like to sign up to receive general City information, including updates on the Causeway study, sign up here by entering your email address.

History

Causeway Background

The City of Treasure Island is located on a barrier island and is joined to the mainland by a Causeway located within the City of Treasure Island starting at Gulf Boulevard and extending into the City of St. Petersburg at Sunset Drive. The Causeway is approximately 1.8 miles long and is comprised of four travel lanes, three bridges and man-made islands including the neighborhoods Paradise Island (Treasure Island), Causeway Isles, and Yacht Club Estates (St. Petersburg). The Causeway has a fixed bridge at the east end located within the City of St. Petersburg, which was built by and is owned and maintained by the City of Treasure Island. The other fixed bridge at the west end of the Causeway is located within the City of Treasure Island and is also owned by the City. There is a bascule bridge located over the Intracoastal Waterway that is owned, maintained, manned, and operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the City of Treasure Island. The Causeway serves as the most direct and fastest evacuation route to the mainland and as the sole means of access for residents of the three Causeway neighborhoods. Access to the remainder of Treasure Island is made possible by two State-owned bridges on the north and south ends of the island at Johns Pass and Blind Pass.

The original Causeway and bridges were completed in 1939. To repay the bonds that funded the construction of the Causeway and its three bridges, a toll system was established. Toll booths were set up just east of the bascule bridge inside the municipal limits of the City of St. Petersburg.  Frequent-use passes were sold, while all others paid a per-trip user fee. By the 1990’s, it became increasingly clear that the three bridges were at the end of their useful life and needed to be replaced.  Annual inspections resulted in severe weight limits being placed on the bascule bridge.  The City engaged Pinellas County and the State asking that they consider taking over the Causeway; however, both entities responded to indicate there was no interest in adding the Causeway to their roadway systems.

After an lengthy process, the City was able to obtain an appropriation from Congress in the amount of $50 million to be put towards the replacement of the bascule bridge.  Additionally, the City used its own funds in the amount of $10 million, along with a $5.2 million state TOPS grant, to replace the two fixed bridges on the east and west ends.  Replacement of the east and west fixed bridges began in June 2003 and was completed in December 2004.

Replacement of the bascule bridge began in January 2005 and was completed in August 2007. Tolling was terminated by an act of the City Commission in 2006, at the request of Congressman Young, who was instrumental in securing the $50 million in federal funding. At this time, prior to the recession, it was believed that there would be future federal appropriations available to cover major maintenance needs for the bridges, namely for the operation of the bascule bridge, which has to be manned 24/7 to allow boat traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway to flow unimpeded. Further, the City expected to give the eastern portion of the Causeway, lying solely within the City of St. Petersburg, to St. Petersburg.

Purpose

Why is funding the Causeway important?

In recent history, the City of Treasure Island has funded the annual recurring operating costs of the Treasure Island Causeway with property taxes from within the General Fund. The operating costs of the Treasure Island Causeway are nearly $700,000 in fiscal year 2017, equating to .40 mill of the City’s 3.3368 total millage rate or 12% of the millage rate. Over the next 5 years, there is approximately $3.2M in 2016 dollars of unfunded capital maintenance required for the Treasure Island Causeway. Over the next 15 years, there is approximately $10M in 2016 dollars of unfunded maintenance required.

Without a financial plan outlining how the City is going to pay for the capital maintenance of the Causeway, the City will have no other choice but to increase taxes by an additional .40 mill beyond the current .10 mill bridge assignment. This would result in a total of .90 mill dedicated to the Treasure Island Causeway for annual operations and capital maintenance or nearly 25% of what would then be a 3.7368 millage rate, all things being equal. This approach would still not address funding the eventual replacement of the Causeway. Further, this approach would put the sole burden of the cost of the Causeway and Bridges on the property owners of Treasure Island.

What is the City doing and how?

The City of Treasure Island is conducting this study to identify long-term funding for Causeway operations and maintenance, an amount that is expected to exceed $20 million over the next 20 years. This financial burden is adversely affecting the City’s financial stability as all costs are currently funded through property taxes. The following goals and objectives have been identified for the first phase of the study:

· Recruit community members to help evaluate Causeway alternatives.
· Analyze economic factors impacting the long-term maintenance and operations of the Treasure Island Causeway bridges, including anticipated costs and revenue projections.
· Perform traffic analyses to support economic projections.
· Select future Causeway revenue sources and develop a long-term financial plan.
· If tolling is a selected as a preferred Causeway funding alternative, develop the tolling fee structures.

Documents

Documents

To view/download a document, please click on the desired document Link below.

Atkins PowerPoint Presentation to the Commission, August 2, 2017: Treasure Island Causeway LFP udpate_sb

Contact Us

Have a question, comment, or idea pertaining to the Causeway study? We would love to hear from you. Please submit your questions to CausewayPlan@myTreasureIsland.org

If would like to sign up to receive general City information, including updates on the Causeway study, sign up here by entering your email address.

Upcoming Events

Like us on Facebook  

Sign-up for our
Newsletter