Eight years ago, the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) proposed creating an aerial gondola system that would ferry passengers between Georgetown and Virginia. Since then, it has been one step forward, two steps back for the proposal, from an affirmative feasibility study completed 4.5 years ago, to the Arlington County Board expressing its disinterest, to most recently (over two years ago), a growing group of stakeholders and supporters (the Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola Coalition) making a public plea for DC to purchase the site selected for the gondola’s terminal station.
But if you thought you’d heard the last of efforts to move forward with an aerial gondola between Georgetown and Rosslyn, you thought wrong.
DC Councilmember Brooke Pinto has included in her budget priorities a request for a total of $14 million to take the proposed gondola a step closer to being a reality. Of the $14 million ask, $2 million would go toward completing an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the project, and the other $12 million would go toward purchasing the former Exxon station at 3601 M Street NW, previously identified as the preferred terminus for the gondola system.
After DC purchased the property, it would be converted into “the city’s first EV [electric vehicle] charging station for rideshare and other commercial vehicles” as explained in the councilmember’s letter.
“In addition, this would provide the space needed to establish the Gondola across the Potomac River if the completed EIS demonstrates that it is the most cost effective, green transportation option for commuters.”
The feasibility study previously concluded that the gondola’s Arlington County station would be within a block of Rosslyn Metro, ideally on N. Lynn Street in order to align directly with 36th Street in Georgetown. The system would only have those two stops, and the study predicted an average of 6,500 daily riders for the four-minute trip. In 2016, construction of the system would have cost roughly $80-90 million, and annual operating costs would have been about $3.25 million.
(Urban Turf, photo courtesy of The Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola project)