Moss floats plan for short-haul sky gondola transit
Miami-Dade travelers today cross the county in a variety of ways, from personal vehicles, buses and railcars to boats, rideshares and e-scooters.
According to Commissioner Dennis Moss, another piece may fit into the county’s growing mobility puzzle: sky gondolas.
Mr. Moss raised the idea at a transportation committee meeting last week, noting that Super Bowl LIV goers this month got to ride the high-flying cabled conveyances at Hard Rock Stadium.
Since then, he said, he and the company behind the roughly $3 million project, Austrian ski lift manufacturer Doppelmayer Garaventa Group, had talked about the potential of installing them elsewhere in the county.
“I’m looking at that to explore maybe some short-haul opportunities to move people around,” he said.
In September, a significantly larger Doppelmayr project launched just a few hours north of here: the Disney Skyliner, a six-mile, five-station gondola network connecting the park’s resorts with Hollywood Studios and Epcot Center.
While Disney has yet to disclose the cost of the system, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which has governing jurisdiction over the land of Walt Disney World Resort, paid $3.8 million for its electric system alone, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“They’re using that as a way to get people off the roads,” Mr. Moss said.
The idea to use aerial cable cars as a transit solution here may sound familiar, as almost exactly four years ago to the day the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization – now the Transportation Planning Organization – published a feasibility report on the subject.
The February 2016 report by consultants Jacobs, RG Consultants and CH Perez & Associates examined three possible routes: FIU to around Dolphin Mall, Marlins Park to downtown Miami, and downtown Miami to PortMiami.
Of multiple configurations considered, consultant personnel most highly recommended a 1.2-mile, two-station route between Marlins Park and Government Center downtown due to its “much lower capital and operating costs than the other alternatives” and link to “a major entertainment venue.”
Not counting the cost of land for stations, permitting and community coordination, the system reportedly would cost $35 million to build, including a 25% contingency factor, and $2.8 million yearly to maintain.
For comparison, the 2.4-mile Metrorail Orange Line from the Earlington Heights station to the Miami Intermodal Center cost $506 million to complete, a three-station addition to Metromover was estimated to cost $260 million, the local cost for Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link was about $70 million and a 10-mile commuter rail service between Miami International Airport and Florida’s Turnpike under the 826 expressway was $100 million without including right-of-way acquisition costs.
“Compared with other transit investments under consideration, the overall capital cost of the potential route is comparatively modest,” the report said.
Further, the report said, the system would be eligible to receive funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts or TIGER Grant programs and could get ongoing financial assistance from existing federal programs.
“Once funding and permits are in place, actual construction of the system would be reasonably quick, typically in the range of 12 months or less,” the report said. “The stations and terminals are the only substantial civil works required for the project. Erecting the towers and stringing the cables for a 5,000- to 7,500-foot system could be accomplished in a matter of weeks.”