Proposal for Austin gondola lift grounded by officials

AP News
|
Posted: Mar 25, 2017 4:03 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A proposal to build a gondola lift in Austin that would have been incorporated as part of the public transit system in Texas' capital city won't be flying anytime soon.

City and transportation officials concluded on Friday that they won't be moving forward with the unconventional mode of transit, the Austin American-Statesman reported (http://atxne.ws/2n4EGcQ ).

The proposal would have consisted of an 8-mile, 19-stop line and was estimated to cost between $290 million and $550 million. One concern was that the proposal called for the largest and longest gondola system in the world.

Cable-propelled urban gondolas are similar to those used for decades to transport skiers up mountains. Austin officials concluded as part of a viability study that such an urban cable car system is better suited for "'niche' applications and not as a primary means of moving people or goods as a part of a regional network or along a major corridor."

"We're not saying that it has no future or has no role in Austin's mobility," said Todd Hemingson, vice president of strategic planning and development for Capital Metro, Austin's public transit system. "But we are essentially saying that . there's more work to be done before it could really be considered."

Other concerns included securing the right of way and possible impacts on other city transportation projects.

Jared Ficklin, who dreamed up the gondola plan through his firm Argodesign, said he thought the viability study actually provided a boost for the idea.

"Most cities would take a report like this, that indicates there are no substantial barriers and states there are actually a great number of benefits, and move to a feasibility study," he said.

Ficklin said he hasn't given up hope on finding political support for his idea.

___

Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com