Sky high transportation: Gondola project proposed in Los Angeles
- The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced that is has received an unsolicited proposal to build an aerial tram — also known as a gondola — between Union Station and Dodger Stadium, home of MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies submitted the proposal for the estimated $125 million project, and it could start carrying passengers by 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- Metro has 60 days to perform the gondola proposal's initial review, just as it must with all unsolicited proposals. The agency can then choose to advance the proposal to a secondary review.
It's become obvious that Los Angeles has major traffic trouble and city planners constantly look for solutions to the gridlock. The problem is so bad that the city earned the dubious honor of being the world's most congested city, according to a recent study.
The gondola plan announcement's timing probably smarts a bit for the Dodgers' MLB rivals the Oakland Athletics, who just three weeks ago revealed their own plan to explore the idea of installing a gondola to get fans to baseball games. Truth be told, though, L.A. didn't steal the A's idea because the city previously had floated the idea of a gondola in other parts of the city. For example, last year the concept surfaced as a way to get people to and from the Hollywood Sign.
A number of global cities have proposed large-scale gondola systems in recent years, but currently few have come to fruition besides the one in Portland, OR and another on New York's Roosevelt Island. Gondolas most often are suggested as transportation modes that easily take people over city obstacles, such as elevation changes, or in the case of Roosevelt Island, New York's East River. In that regard, a gondola system could serve Los Angeles well, as it could transport passengers over the city's hilly terrain. The proposed Dodger Stadium gondola also would take passengers over the notoriously congested 110 Freeway.
Although municipalities traditionally devise their own projects or hire a contractor to do so, L.A. instated a system by which private sector companies can submit unsolicited ideas for municipal improvements that the city can choose to reject or adopt. The city has taken on a handful of ideas in this way.
Private companies tend to be viewed as experts in their fields and thus are often better suited for devising concepts and setting them in motion, compared with local governments, which often don't have adequate resources or depth of knowledge to do so on specialty projects. The gondola concept is that type of project.
The fact that it was proposed by a company specifically dedicated to this type of transportation means the plan is more likely better researched and more solid than what the city could have provided. Plus, the fact that the project would be privately funded — in part through the gondola company and the rest through private investors — should make the plan more attractive to the city. The private funding is likely to come through because the gondola business was founded by Drew McCourt, the son of former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
Although many unsolicited proposals come and go in Los Angeles, this one could actually stick and the city appears to be taking it more seriously than others, as evidenced by Mayor Eric Garcetti revealing the plan at a Metro board meeting.
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