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Gondolas in Round Rock? City Council members say they love the idea

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For our earlier gondola coverage, see here.

American-Statesman Staff

ROUND ROCK —Round Rock City Council members said they loved the idea.

Frog Design’s Austin office came up with the idea last year and has unsuccessfully sought an audience with Austin city officials. “Who wants to be the test case for some completely new technology?” Rob Spillar, Austin’s transportation director, said in December.

Michael McDaniel, a principal designer with Frog Design, thinks the answer could be Round Rock, which recently passed the 100,000 population mark, and is beginning to consider options for public transportation.

The system would be similar to cable car networks in Barcelona, Spain, and Medellín, Colombia — and designers say Round Rock’s system would be more complex than either of those.

Officials say Round Rock has an opportunity to start from scratch in a way Austin, with an established bus system and a more recent commuter rail line, cannot.

“At some point we’re going to have to put a transit system in place,” Round Rock Transportation Director Gary Hudder said. “We have an opportunity to think outside of the box.”

McDaniel said the company — which hasn’t built a wire system, only conceptualized them — envisions the system linking with multiple forms of transportation, “so it goes door-to-door.” That could include a bike and car-sharing service with a “Netflix-style membership” that would allow riders to get from the gondola stations to their final destinations.

McDaniel said the wire system would cost $12 million to $24 million a mile, compared with the city of Austin’s estimated $100 million a mile for a proposed urban rail system.

McGraw said the city is not proposing anything yet. Thursday’s presentation, McGraw said, gave Frog Design “a public forum to present the idea to the region to see if this is a viable alternative.”

McDaniel said he hopes it will at least generate discussion with officials in Austin. So far, though, that seems unlikely.

Austin transportation department spokeswoman Leah Fillion said the department hasn’t changed its stance since December when Spillar, an enthusiastic proponent of the city’s urban rail initiative, said he was not interested.

Source: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/gondolas-in-round-rock-city-council-members-say-th/nWPwN/

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Written by messwatx

2013/02/17 at 10:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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