Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Godrey still wants to play with aerial gondolas in Ogden...

Originally uploaded by RACTOD
Apparently Mayor Godfrey up in Ogden is still dreaming of that wonderful urban gondola project instead of looking at what the best transportation options for the city is.

First here is some reading material:

Weber council weighs Ogden transit plan

Weber County Forum Responds

Gondola Comparison

Now let’s take a look at the Gondola comparison prepared by the city of Ogden. The first thing you will notice is that the only project that has been built that even comes close to what Godfrey wants is down in Columbia. Other than that all the other urban gondola projects are pipe dreams.

One thing that is not mentioned anywhere in the comparison is what happens to the urban fabric between the gondola stations.

The first gondola mentioned is the Roosevelt Island Gondola in New York City. This was built before Roosevelt Island had a subway station which opened in 1989. One thing to note is the ridership. Our two TRAX lines carry the same number of passengers in less than two years than the Roosevelt Island gondola has in its 30 years of existence. Also there is no comparison to the urban fabric since the Roosevelt Island gondola primarily travels over the East River.

The next gondola project talked about was MART which was part of the New Orleans Worlds Fair. This is another gondola that traveled over water so had no effect on the urban fabric it passed over. An interesting point about this gondola is that there was plans to continue operating it after the fair but that last less than six months and was later torn down on the orders of the Coast Guard. Another interesting facet is that ridership during the fair boom was less than half of what projected by the backers of the system.

The next one compared is Telluride Colorado which travels from the historic city to the Mountain Village area. Once again it is hard to compare as this one is designed to carry people from the historic town which is located in a narrow valley up to the village which sits 1800 feet higher than the historic village. Once again there is no real urban fabric that the gondola travels over.

The third gondola compared is the only one that comes close to what Godfrey is trying to build and that is the urban gondola in Medellin, Columbia. This one is designed to take people from a poor section of town to the main transportation hub. Of course the gondola like Miami’s Metromover travels over city streets and does little for the urban fabric is passes over.

The fourth project talked about once again is a poor comparison to Godfrey’s dream which is the Portland Ariel Tram. Like the telluride situation this gondola is designed to carry passengers from the waterfront area up a steep incline to the Oregon Health and Science University which is located on a cliff area to the west of the waterfront area. As a side note this does not replace a streetcar route but connects the Portland Streetcar to the University area.

The line does travel along Gibbs Street which lies between the cliff and Interstate 5, but once again because the gondola travels over this isolated area, it is doing nothing to help this neighborhood.

The next couple of gondola’s mentioned join Godfrey’s as pipe dreams which includes proposals in Baltimore, Maryland and Camden, New Jersey.

What it comes down to is a gondola is good for point to point transportation especially for situations that involve huge elevation changes. What it is not designed to do is blend into the urban fabric of a community. How will 25th Street benefit from the Gondola? Instead imagine a streetcar traveling along the street bring people from FrontRunner to shop and dine in Ogden.

What Godfrey should be working on is bringing a new vision to the city, one that focuses on the character of the city, provides the opportunity for independently owned retail stores and restaurants which would give residents of Salt Lake City an alternative to the chain stores and restaurants of Gateway and other developments. Ogden could build something really unique that would cause people to want to travel to the city. Between the river walk, 25th Street, and Washington Blvd Ogden has an outstanding opportunity to develop a unique destination that will bring new life to the city.

Or will Godfrey take the opportunity that Ogden has and squander it on some pipe dream?


Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Telluride has Gondola's that they use as transit. It cuts the commute over the mountain by 20 minutes from the winding road alternative. I'm not sure about the Ogden layout, but if it's not over a river or a mountain it doesn't really make a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

You make the common, and mistaken, assumption that a gondola can only provide point to point transportation. It is very possible to have midstations on a gondola.

weber citizen said...

Anonymous correctly points out that a gondola can have midstations. But it's not very common, because midstations are awkward and expensive.

Half of the systems described in Ogden's "comparison" document are actually trams, not gondolas. A tram has much larger cabins, with an attendant present on each cabin. In Ogden's proposed gondola you could end up stuck alone in a small space with a creepy stranger for 20 minutes. Think of it as a long, horizontal elevator ride. A gondola travels at about 13 miles per hour, and Ogden's system would be the longest ever built: 4.5 miles from end to end (with 3 midstations).

Vincent said...

If there is a tram or gondola in Ogden I am moving there with all my money (not a whole lot) and buying a house and restarting my 2 businesses there. This is of course that it eventually reaches the top of mount ogden. There is good skiing there and that is a real draw for me and many others.

GotOutofDatState! said...

Definitely would make it unique for Ogden and a definite all-season draw to the resort... been there done that in that town.. there is nothing. So do something Ogden!