Findings of a feasibility study for a Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola indicate that such a project has no fatal flaws and is both technically feasible and legally permit-eligible.
A gondola "lift" is a car suspended and propelled by moving cables strung between two stations. Although more popular internationally, gondolas are less common in the United States. Portland, Oregon's aerial tram is the most well-known and successful example of such a transit system in the U.S.
If a Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola were constructed, it would carry passengers across the Potomac River and connect the two communities. Such a system would improve transit for workers, residents, the university, and tourists, and could serve as a model for future transit improvement projects.
The study identified feasible alignments/station areas and estimated that the minimum daily ridership would be 6,500 people. Travel time would be four minutes between Rosslyn's Central Place and M Street. Construction costs would be between $80-90 million, which is similar to other international gondola systems and less expensive to build than other comparable public transit modes, including Metro stations.
“When you’re not immersed in this technology, a gondola can sound sort of fanciful and not like a real technological possibility,” Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick said in an interview with The Washington Post. “But it really does bear consideration. It’s not just a fanciful idea. It has the potential to be a model.”
The feasibility study was supported by the Georgetown and Rosslyn BIDs, the D.C. Department of Transportation, Arlington County, Georgetown University, Gould Property Company, JBG Companies and Penzance.