The intriguing idea of an aerial gondola was the catalyst for the funding and formation of a public-private Executive Committee—comprised of the Georgetown BID, Rosslyn BID, DC Government / District Department of Transportation, Arlington County, Georgetown University, and three private developers—to investigate the feasibility of an aerial connection between the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, where it would connect to the regional Metrorail system.
The Executive Committee charged a ZGF-led multidisciplinary consultant team with evaluating the feasibility of an aerial gondola in terms of urban / architecture design, regulatory approvals, transportation benefits, and the potential for gondola-oriented economic development. The team examined several potential alignments, developed conceptual designs for towers and stations, and identified potentially affected historic resources, critical view sheds, and other important environmental planning factors.
The study found that a gondola is technically feasible and legally permit-eligible. A gondola could be designed to enhance the public realm while earning approvals by all 22 federal, state, and district agencies that would have oversight of the project. As a complement to the regional rail system, the gondola may provide expanded “1/2 hour travel” accessibility to Georgetown with a minimum daily ridership of 6,500. The cost of a gondola would be significantly less than a new Metrorail station for similar ridership, while also supporting transit-oriented development. Finally, the implementation of the gondola could serve as a model for the region for innovative transportation project delivery.
The Gondola Executive Committee is continuing the process of securing funding for the next stage of development, an Environmental Impact Study.