The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Let’s get the Georgetown gondola going

The Francis Scott Key Bridge as seen from the Holiday Inn Hotel in Rosslyn in November 2016.
The Francis Scott Key Bridge as seen from the Holiday Inn Hotel in Rosslyn in November 2016. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
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Tom Davis, a Republican from Virginia, was chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Ted Leonsis is chief executive of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Matt Kelly is chief executive of JBG Smith.

Our region came together this year to secure $15 billion in dedicated funding for Metro, the backbone of our regional transportation network. This historic achievement was a result of bold public leadership in response to a clear public need: safe, reliable transit service. It was also a result of advocacy and support from a coalition representing transit riders, employers and employees. They joined forces to ensure that elected officials took critical action to put the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on a sustainable path. More recent, our region successfully secured Amazon’s commitment for its second headquarters and at least 25,000 jobs. This commitment was facilitated in part by the quality, availability and potential for expansion of our regional transportation infrastructure.

In the District, Metro is one part of our diversified transportation network that includes roads, bridges, sidewalks and trails. To continue to meet a growing demand for city- and region-wide accessibility, we need to make investments that increase the capacity of our transportation systems, allowing our communities to be connected and walkable and our economy to remain vibrant and globally competitive. This means embracing creative solutions and technology and making investments in our transportation infrastructure that are forward-looking and innovative. The Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola is a great example of that type of investment.

The project would introduce a brand-new option for transportation between the District and Virginia and provide a seamless connection between Georgetown and the Metro system via an aerial gondola over the Potomac River. This would all come at a fraction of the cost of a new Metrorail station or expanded bridge. It would provide improved access to service-sector jobs at Georgetown University, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and the Georgetown commercial district for workers who live near Metro. It would also bolster the tax base of a key commercial center and increase regional connectivity. This is an investment not just in Georgetown and Rosslyn but also in our region and our residents.

Like most infrastructure projects, it is complex and will require coordination. However, the 2016 Georgetown Gondola Feasibility Study showed that the project is technically feasible, can offer real transit benefits (as in other countries) and is financially viable. What is required is vision and action.

The District should seize the opportunity to advance this project now, via a public-private partnership and in collaboration with leaders in Virginia. The commitment of dedicated funding for Metro has shown us what bold leadership can do for our region. Let’s build on this success to foster additional innovation and investment.

Let’s commit, as a region, to projects that will mold the future of our city for generations to come. To be a truly global city, we must leverage all the tools at our disposal to address our priorities with urgency and creativity. Let’s commit to moving the gondola project forward now.

Read more:

Jim Corcoran: Virginia, D.C. and Maryland must learn to work together

Jim Corcoran: Opening doors with mass transit

Jeremy L. Korr: Imagining a world without the Beltway