January 30, 2014
by Lark Turner
A rendering of the gondola. Georgetown BID.
Georgetown is one step closer to getting a gondola — or at least one step closer to commissioning a study to figure out whether or not a gondola is possible.
The group advancing a 15-year plan for the neighborhood, Georgetown 2028, announced on Thursday that it has raised half the money for a feasibility study that will determine whether moving forward with a gondola connecting Georgetown and Rosslyn is indeed possible. An exact cost for the study has yet to be determined, but the group has raised $100,000 from private donors.
The next step is getting DDOT to pitch in another $100,000 so the neighborhood can move forward with soliciting bids from companies who would conduct the study. Asked whether getting that money from DDOT is likely, Joe Sternlieb, CEO of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, confidently replied “yes.”
In addition to the usual engineering challenges, the study will need to include input from organizations like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), since helicopters regularly fly along the river. Sternlieb said he’d like to have the study complete by the end of 2014, though he acknowledged that timeline was ambitious.
UrbanTurf’s streetcar-inspired rendering of the gondola, by Capital Pixel
Georgetown 2028 has attracted support from local businesses, organizations, councilmembers and the neighborhood’s ANC. At its core is a set of 75 action items the neighborhood would like to see implemented over the next 15 years, most of which relate to transportation improvements. The rest seek to ramp up use of public space, including making the C&O Canal more of a destination, and improve Georgetown’s economy, especially in less-trafficked areas like K Street.
A rendering of the streetcar. Via cox, graae and + spack architects
In addition to the gondola, the BID is advocating heavily on behalf of bringing a streetcar and eventually adding subway service to the neighborhood. The streetcar connecting Union Station and Georgetown would run along K Street NW, New Jersey Avenue NW and H Street. Georgetown University wants the streetcar to continue to campus, so the BID, DDOT and the University are looking into whether that’s feasible.
On a smaller scale, a few of the short term goals are near completion. Signage to help pedestrians navigate the neighborhood is up first, since the BID happened on some previously approved signs in a DDOT warehouse. They plan to have the signs put up in the neighborhood by March 15.