High-flying public transit could prove economical and efficient for Kirkland, Wash., east of Seattle and north of Bellevue, even if it does sound a bit fantastical.
In a new report from The Seattle Times, the paper says that Kirkland city officials have grown frustrated by the slow movement of Sound Transit to extend light rail to the east of Seattle and they want more public transit options to ease the strain on Interstate 405.
Cue the gondola idea. But keep in mind; it is only an idea at this time, even if it is a fun one to dwell on.
Portland has already pulled off a gondola as a route up a downtown hill, connecting Oregon Health & Science University Hospital to the city’s waterfront alleviating traffic on the twisting route up to the hospital at a tune of 3,700 riders a day.
Kirkland has grander hopes, though. With Google’s campus in a constant growth curve, moving the public in and out of Kirkland and its Cross Kirkland Corridor has become a greater priority, even if Sound Transit isn’t moving any quicker on planning routes. A gondola plan—while not without financial risk, as was seen in Portland’s high-cost route—could prove substantially cheaper and quicker to construct, as seen by the product’s growing popularity in South America and Europe.
Sure, a gondola could prove a tough sell for its newfangled-looking way of moving people on a non-ski slope basis, but the very fact that Kirkland is exploring its options for improving traffic and public transportation in a non-orthodox way proves an encouraging—if not high-flying—sign.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for TIME, Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.