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Boston’s Gondolas in the Sky Could Solve 15k People’s Traffic Problems

Many complain about the traffic congestion along the South Boston Waterfront and developer Millennium Partners has a proposed project: a gondola system. Millennium Partners are the same group that worked on one of the tallest buildings in the city, Millennium Tower. They also have another project that is waiting for approval.

While waiting for the decision on their Winthrop Square Garage tower, the developers have yet another idea, which will be designed to address the traffic problem in South Boston. The proposal is for the construction of a gondola system that would transport as many as 15,000 individuals on a daily basis from South Station to the Seaport District and vice versa.

Not an Extraordinary Idea

The proposal may sound exotic to some, but it is actually operational in many parts of the world, such as in Bolivia, China, Turkey, Singapore, and Venezuela. Cable cars have popped up, such as the aerial trams in New York for Manhattan and Brooklyn. Portland, Oregon also has an aerial gondola as well. They are often used to cross bodies of water or to transport people over steep hills.

In Portland, the system already opened back in 2007. The whole project had a total budget of $57 million. It now runs 3,300 feet between the waterfront of the city and the Oregon Health and Science University. The passenger trams can take 78 passengers and can cover the entire trip for as little as four minutes.

Although the gondola system has been around in some cities, there were doubts about it for South Boston. The key aspects are still undetermined. However, the plan could push through as Millennium Partners are already in talks with officials of the state and the city. There is still no exact strategy for the gondola in this part of Boston, but when the plans overtake the preliminary stage, it should include an exact route as well as the total height of the gondola.

Nevertheless, the idea has actually piqued the interest of US Representative Stephen Lynch. In addition to the willingness of Millennium Partners to cough up $100 million for this specific project, Lynch’s district includes the waterfront in South Boston.

Thousands of People Gliding

Cargo Ventures, which is Millennium Partners’ subsidiary, has control of about 12 acres of land from the Northern Avenue to Drydock, which are both located in the Seaport District. Due to its hold of the avenues mentioned, it could become the starting and ending points of the gondolas. Thankfully for the developer, the city is looking forward to making sizable new developments in that particular area. Apparently, the gondola system is a huge development and has the potential to offset the effects of traffic.

With the help of the aerial gondola or what is commonly called a cable car system, South Boston could see a huge improvement when it comes to their traffic issues. People travel between the Seaport District and the South Station on a regular basis. Statistics affirm that there are about 15,000 commuters there per day. If the gondola plan were set, it is possible for this Boston area to see a reduction in their traffic congestion.

According to Lynch, there have been many proposals submitted to help reduce traffic congestion in South Boston. However, this particular gondola project is one of the most interesting for him because it does not put more vehicles on the road.

The US representative said in an interview that by his understanding, this gondola system would make use of cable cars. These cable cars would be able to hold as many as 40 commuters. While the idea does appeal to Lynch, he also stated that he prefers that the system is operated and owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). If it is owned by a private operator, the charges could be too much for the public.

On the other hand, the MBTA has not offered to provide their comment on the idea. However, they suggested that the questions be referred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). As for MassDOT, they are willing to talk about this opportunity for the advancement of transit.