Funding for Feasibility Study of Proposed Gondola System Approved for $15K

A proposal that would add a gondola system to South First and Guadalupe streets gained momentum today after a regional mobility agency approved funding a feasibility study.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board approved splitting the cost of the $15,000 feasibility study with the city of Austin and the city’s transit agency, Capital Metro. Each organization would pay about $5,000, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute will conduct the nine-week study, said Jeff Dailey, the Mobility Authority’s deputy executive director.

“The object is to provide information on the strengths and weaknesses of this [proposal] for consideration for further study,” he said. “They’re going to look at research documentation, operations and maintenance costs of other systems and provide an independent, high-level assessment and also look at the effectiveness of it as a transit system.”

Other areas of study will include demand and capacity for a gondola system, environmental impact, safety issues and financing, according to Mobility Authority documents.

Board chairman Ray Wilkerson said the gondola system is an example of the other types of projects the Mobility Authority is able to consider besides toll roads. The organization was created to look at relieving congestion in a variety of modes, he said.

“Whether this goes further or not, I’m glad that this board is open-minded enough to start discussing other avenues,” he said.” … The fact that we are able to do that and [it] is part of our direction, then I’m in favor of moving forward with these type of items that come up more often to look for what we can do to relieve congestion in Central Texas.”

The Mobility Authority first heard a proposal Sept. 7 for The Wire urban cable concept, which is an 8-mile-long detached gondola system similar to those at ski resorts. The Wire is proposed to operate between Slaughter Lane and The University of Texas campus, said Jared Ficklin, partner and lead creative technologist at Argodesign, the company promoting the concept.

Ficklin said Sept. 7 that The Wire would have 19 stations and be able to transport between 2,400 and 6,000 riders per hour. Stations would be located over roadways with ramps connecting to sidewalks or double as pedestrian bridges. Estimated costs for the project are between $290 million and $600 million, he said.

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