The future of Houston traffic: Could gondolas help improve traffic in Montrose?

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Katherine Whaley is looking into the future of Houston traffic with big freeway projects and ideas that could improve congestion.

Can you imagine what Houston traffic might look in 2030 or 2050? Instead of more freeways, one group of young designers from architecture firm Gensler thinks gondolas could help improve traffic. The team suggests using a sky tram system, much like one you would see at a ski resort, between Shepherd and Westheimer.

"So in our head, if the ground level becomes more pedestrian orientated, we can lift the transportation up to a higher plane, which is how we started thinking of the gondola system," Jong Kim of Gensler's ByDesign Group said.

Jong and his team envision an automated multi-speed system, that would move travelers between 5 to 25 miles per hour, with stations a quarter mile apart.

The team plan also includes a total removal of car traffic from the lower Westheimer corridor and the addition of more public spaces.

"As a society, as a city, we have to become more dependent on public transportation such as buses and trains and even carpooling walking. It is with these strategies that we can relieve the stress of traffic and lack of public spaces in urban centers," Jong said.

The idea is not that far-fetched. About a dozen U.S. cities are considering gondola systems, and Portland's Aerial Tram has been around for a decade.

The ideas are still in development, but the concept has gotten the attention of Houston city planners. The ByDesign team was invited to speak at Intersections, the Houston Tomorrow Conference.

Traffic of Tomorrow continues Thursday with a look at high-speed, long distance travel using tubes.
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