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Whether you walk, bike, take the bus or drive to school, you may have another option in a few years: taking a gondola.
Planned expansion of CU’s east campus means new modes of transportation are being considered to help fight traffic mitigation. A gondola system is probably one of the most non-conventional methods being addressed.
Architecture and planning professor, Spenser Havlick said there are better alternatives to the gondola system, like a trolley.
“The basis [of the idea] probably began six months ago when CU thought of developing east campus,” Havlick said. “East campus is expected to hold 15,000 students through dormitories and working in research labs. Main campus holds 25,000 students and the problem arose when trying to decide upon a mechanism for which to allow students to travel between the two.”
Currently, the primary source of transportation around campus is the Buff Bus line. Bicycle routes are also used but not as much as the university expected.
According to Havlick, CU spent $9 million to create bicycle routes and underpasses for students, but said they are not frequently used.
“The bus is more efficient and holds more people,” Havlick said. “It’s cheaper and doesn’t have the aesthetic problems a gondola would have.”
The project is estimated at $4 to $5 million while additional funds would be required to battle wind discourse and other elemental attributes. The system would even need to be shut down at times when wind reaches around 90 mph as it often does in the winter months.
CU is not the first school to raise the idea of alternative means of transportation like a gondola.
Portland State University is one example of success with a trolley system. The trolley takes students from downtown Portland to the university, helping to fight traffic congestion.
Junior dance major Lauren Martin said she dislikes the prospect of a gondola system because it clashes with Boulder’s “green” status.
“I think the idea is ridiculous, Boulder is so pedestrian as is,” Martin said. “I’m lazy sometimes and drive but wasting a little gas money is nothing compared to millions of dollars on a gondola.”
Student opinion seems to be very similar across campus.
Some students say they don’t want a gondola mainly because it seems too inefficient. Others say the system will deface the view of the mountains with its support structures, and despite the potential tourist appeal, the idea probably isn’t something the state legislature would be likely to pay for.
Abby Faires, a freshman pre-journalism major, said change needs to happen, and soon. Faires said she sees the gondola system as a tourist attraction but not as a solution to help ease transportation across campus.
“I don’t think it’ll happen but it’s interesting to think of other methods of transportation that will take some strain off the crowded Buff buses,” Faires said. “We could add a bus line or increase bike paths, anything to take away from more drivers on the road.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Adrian Kun at Adrian.Kun@colorado.edu