Pinto Revives Gondola Proposal

Left for dead, the proposal to link Georgetown with Rosslyn via an aerial gondola has roared back to life. As first reported by DC Urban Turf, Councilmember Brooke Pinto has submitted a budget request for $14 million related to the project.

The gondola proposal has had a long bumpy (or maybe the right word would be turbulent?) road from being just a glimmer in BID CEO Joe Sternleib’s eye to where it is today: still mostly a glimmer in Joe Sternleib’s eye. But the glimmer just got glimmier.

A small part ($2 million) of the money being request by Pinto would go towards to purchase of the land where the former Key Bridge Exxon was. The stated reason for this acquisition is to convert it to the city’s first electric vehicle charging facility, to be used by taxi/car sharing drivers and other commercial vehicles. The rest would go toward funding a full environmental impact study of the gondola. If it concludes that the project makes sense, the property could be used to serve as the Georgetown terminus.

Gondola supporters will be happy with this news. But you know who will be thrilled? The Prospect St. residents who are vehemently opposed to the construction of an apartment building on the property, which will come to pass absent this action. They will likely trade the (still remote) possibility of the gondola being constructed for the certainty that the condo building won’t.

And while GM is generally in support of the construction of more housing in Georgetown, the opportunity for the city to obtain this land and use it could more than offset the loss. EV charging would be a good start, but there are even more useful ways the city could repurpose this property. These include building a Circulator turn around (the Circulator would no longer need to cross Key Bridge after the gondola was built) and ultimately a staging site for the construction of a new Metro tunnel.

Even if this funding makes its way into the budget and the Mayor agrees to spend it, the gondola still has a billion hoops to jump through before they start construction. But without this funding, the project would truly be officially dead. So

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