Hanging gondolas may one day fly back and forth between Georgetown and Rosslyn, but the project won’t get funding from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for the time being.
The COG decision, which came on Wednesday, Urban Turf reports, may provide a minor setback for the Georgetown Business Improvement District. A Georgetown BID spokeswoman told the site that COG won’t be funding the project at the current stage, but she said that the Georgetown BID will “continue to work with the city, Arlington and private interests to fully fund the feasibility study” for the gondolas.
And there is reason to be optimistic. The BID claims to already have about $100,000 lined up from private donations. It will have to secure the the necessary funding that it wants before it can begin taking bids for the study, but its CEO, Joe Sternlieb, anticipates that it could be completed by the end of 2015.
The gondolas are part of a larger plan, dubbed “Georgetown 2028,”that includes 75 action items covering transportation and other improvements for the area.
Here’s the official description of what the gondola system would involve:
A gondola lift consists of a loop cable between two stations with individual cabins accommodating anywhere from four to 20 passengers. The cabins move along the cable between the two stations. Sometimes there are intermediate supporting towers. The cable, known as the haul rope, moves continuously, driven by a bullwheel that is powered by an electric motor in one of the end terminals.
A gondola lift can carry more than 4,000 passengers in each direction, per hour, similar to light rail transit and much larger than a typical bus route running at five-minute intervals.
Georgetown desperately needs options when it comes to public transit, so it’s great that ideas like this one are getting floated with funding attached. These gondolas may help to speed things up for visitors coming in across the Potomac River, but the bigger challenge is likely going to rest with two other parts of the Georgetown 2028 plan, which involve getting a Metro station and K Street streetcar up and running. Given the delays D.C. has recently seen with the Silver Line and H Street-Benning Road streetcar system, gondolas are bit easier to imagine in near future.