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Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola is Viable, Study Says


At least 6,500 people would ride a a proposed gondola from Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood to Rosslyn, Virginia daily, according to a long-awaited study released last week.  ZGF Architects and Engineering Specialties Group consulted with more than 20 federal, state and local agencies along with Georgetown University and local residents.  Not only is the project technically feasible, it would improve mobility for residents and visitors while positively impacting the region’s economy.  The system would cost $80-90 million, expensive by gondola standards, and take approximately six years years to open.


A look at 15 possible alignments yielded two preferred alternatives.  Most require an angle station in public right of way on the Virginia side of the Potomac at an added cost in the neighborhood of $7 million.  Both of the above lines terminate adjacent to the Rosslyn Metro Station and the southeastern corner of the Georgetown U. campus.  Towers in or adjacent to the river would be 130-150 tall to allow vessels to pass below and give riders a compelling view over the Key Bridge.

Pedestrian connections from the Rosslyn Metro Station to above ground gondola station options.

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Community Open House Launches Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola Study

ZGF Architects will lead a team of professionals to study a possible gondola link between the Georgetown neighborhood in D.C. and Rosslyn, Virginia.

Washington, D.C. is inching closer to building the first urban transit gondola in the nation.  A team of consultants let by  ZGF Architects held an open house last week to update the public on the feasibility study underway for the Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola proposed to cross the Potomac River.  ZGF, whose mission is to “create beautiful spaces that best serve people and the community,” was chosen this spring from eight teams who bid on the study. Local governments, Georgetown University and private-sector businesses have dedicated $190,000 to the project to date.

Jamie Bunch and Mike Deiparine from Engineering Specialties Group will provide technical ropeway expertise.  Their company has vast experience consulting on projects such as the Telluride Mountain Village GondolaPortland Aerial Tram, Roosevelt Island Tramway, Steamboat Silver Bullet Gondola and the Jackson Hole Tram Replacement.  ZGF Architects and its partners will study the gondola’s possible routing and overall feasibility, releasing their findings this fall.

urban gondola timeline
Staff presented this graphic showing the rapid growth of gondolas in cities across the globe.

At the meeting, project staff presented a Gondola 101 primer and chronicled the rise of urban cable transport globally.  The presentation even included pictures from my lift database! Slides were impressively researched and something I wish every American city-dweller could sit through – explaining angle stations, towers and cabin spacing in an easy to understand way.  Staff detailed four case studies: the Portland Aerial Tram, Roosevelt Island Tramway, Emirates Air Line and South American systems in La Paz and Medellín. After the formal program, community members got to check out five stations with display boards and ask questions.

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