St. Petersburg has closed meeting about transit

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Plans for an elevated transit system were explained Tuesday at a closed-door meeting inside the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce building. 

Afterwards, several of those in attendance shared some facts with FOX 13 News. 

"It's not gondola, it's cable propelled transit - CPT," St. Pete businessman Jonny Reno explained, before complimenting the company that has spent four years quietly exploring the concept. "The work they have done is alarmingly thorough and seems to be right on the money."

Darryl LeClair, CEO and president of Echelon LLC started meeting privately with political leaders at least two years ago about the general concept of elevated transit.  LeClair declined to speak with FOX 13 News after Tuesday's closed door meeting, and Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long explained the behind-the-scenes activity. 

"It's trying to talk to community leaders, civic-minded groups who clearly recognize that there's a desperate need to resolve transportation solutions," Long said. 

Interest in gondolas surfaced recently in Clearwater, which is challenged by ever-increasing traffic congestion on Clearwater Beach, and has been growing in recent weeks. 

"I do think it has legs," Long said. "I think you'll be hearing more."

St. Petersburg city council member Lisa Wheeler-Brown referred to written notes when asked some pointed questions about yhe cost of a Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater network.  

"They gave a figure of about one billion [dollars]," Wheeler-Brown said. 

A pilot project for Clearwater would cost about $75 million, but is not the only possibility. 

"The test project for St. Pete... would be about 40 million," she said. "That would come from, like, 6th Avenue South down First Street, past Albert Whitted. You'd have the Dali and all of that, then go down by the Pier."

Those speaking with FOX 13 News also said each gondola or cabin could carry about 35 passengers, could operate in winds up to 60 miles per hour, and would move at 20 to 25 miles per hour. Unlike buses or trains, gondolas do not run on schedules. 

Since they run continuously in a loop, more or fewer gondolas are placed "online" to meet demand.