Our re­gion is cry­ing out for in­no­va­tive trans­porta­tion so­lu­tions. So how about that gon­dola?

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY TOM DAVIS, TED LEONSIS AND MATT KELLY

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. 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.

COURTESY OF THE GE­ORGE­TOWN BUSI­NESS IM­PROVE­MENT DIS­TRICT

A ren­der­ing of the pro­posed Ge­orge­town-Ross­lyn gon­dola.

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