Austin's Proposed Gondola System is 'Hanging in the Balance'

The proposed gondola system in downtown Austin is hanging in the balance, as challenges to the urban cable concept were brought to light by a recently-concluded feasibility study of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Funded by Capital Metro, the city of Austin, and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority for $5,000 the feasibility study concluded last February and official results were released last week. 

The main challenges to the implementation of the concept are the financial resources and aesthetic issues required to complete the 8.7 mile-long gondola line and its 19 stations. The estimated cost to execute the entire plan is estimated to be anywhere between $287 million and $555 million-- a significant portion of this budget will compete for local, state, and federal dollars.

The report indicates that the challenges outlined in the report can be addressed by the body who submitted the proposal, Wire One Austin, but the study itself did not provide any recommendations because of the lack of information about the concept presented in the original proposal. The analysis indicates that sponsoring agencies have found insufficient information presented that would warrant further assessment. Concepts need to be clarified and additional details need to be supplied should Wire On Austin desire the project to be considered in the future.

The proposed gondola system which we also featured in a previous blog, will run along Lavaca and South First streets between UT-Austin and Slaughter Lane in South Austin.

In the joint statement, the three agencies stated that funding a gondola system would not be more expensive than any other transportation option. The agencies also do not plan to advance the concept because of a lack of details on alignment, estimates demand, capital costs, and operations and maintenance costs.

“The Wire One proposer (sponsor) would need to perform this work to further develop the proposal and be able to adequately address the project considerations identified in the TTI report,” the statement said.

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