Staten Islanders might finally have an easier commute into Manhattan if plans for an aerial gondola move forward. Photo via Leitner-Poma of America
In January, The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) launched a conceptual design competition which asked participants to develop an aerial tramway to connect the borough to the surrounding areas of New York Harbor. The winning proposal, created by a Colorado-based cable systems developer, Leitner-Poma of America’s (LPOA), features a line that runs parallel to the Bayonne Bridge, over the Kill van Kull strait from Elm Park to the Eighth Street station of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) line in New Jersey, whereupon passengers would take the train to Manhattan.
According to the SIEDC, the trip from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan would take approximately 33 minutes, including a 6-minute gondola ride. The project, if built, would cost $60 million to complete in comparison to the $1 billion it would take to construct a light-rail line across the bridge. LPOA’s proposal was selected after taking into consideration the total cost and travel time of each submission. The competition offered potential routes to use:
Even though there are no concrete plans for the tramway just yet, Bayonne officials are skeptical about the proposal since there is minimal space for the gondola to actually touch down. According to NJ.com, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis is doubtful about the plan as a whole, and believes the gondola system would be more viable if it were to run down to First Street instead of Eighth. However, this would require the HBLR line to be extended to First Street.
Concerns regarding the surrounding neighborhood have also been raised as residents have complained about the continuous construction on the Bayonne Bridge over the years. Ultimately, Davis argues that ferries are more suitable for the island, which is surrounded by water on three sides.
As of now, the SIEDC is working on a feasibility study, hoping to construct the project without public funds.