The Georgetown Business Improvement District, or BID, wants a pie-in-sky solution to traffic problems in historic, tony, and expensive Georgetown. As in Washington DC. In fact, it’s a gondola-in-the-sky solution that would have the metal and plastic bubbles you see on ski hills, suspended from cables, crossing over the Potomac river and bringing pedestrians to and from Rossyln, in Arlington, Virginia. There’s a D.C. Metro stop in Rossyln, unlike in Georgetown which is pleading for one. But until the subway comes to Georgetown, whenever that is, D.C. Council has funded a $35,000 feasibility study on using Gondolas to alleviate congestion on Key Bridge and get pedestrians between the two well-heeled neighborhoods.

One wonders how effective gondolas would be at moving reasonably significant numbers of pedestrians between the two shores of the Potomac. Perhaps Durham boats manned by history buffs could be just as effective, seeing they would be a lot cheaper than the estimated $ 50 to $ 80 million the Gondolas would cost. And about as fast as gondolas as well. Not particularly stable at high speeds, to put it mildly, gondolas have been used in hilly areas and amusement parks for good reason: they are slow and carry few people at a time. But then again, maybe the aim is not to carry large amounts of pedestrians between the two neighborhoods but rather the (un)elected few. As in Georgetown University academics lucky enough to live in Rosslyn, who could gaze thoughtfully down at the water as they slowly cross the river on the way to and from work.

If, on the other hand, it is meant to move large numbers of commuters, a gondola seems expensive and absurd. But perhaps there is a way out. The Potomac Gondola – or whatever they name it – could serve as a tourist attraction as well by combining it with Exorcist film locations. Perhaps it could cross near 3,600 Prospect Street, the house where all that head-spinning action took place. It’s almost next to the river and very close to Georgetown University campus. Perfect for tourists, students and staff! And when a Metro stop for Georgetown is finally built – at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion – the gondola can continue as a tourist trap. Literally. Imagine being stuck in a suspended gondola in mid-winter when the system fails, staring down at the icy waters of the Potomac. Or at that house at 3600 Prospect Street. Who wouldn’t pay for that?

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