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Austin Might Be Weird Enough to Build a Gondola

Regional transportation officials in the traffic-plagued Texas capital support a viability study for an eight-mile aerial circulator.
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The former Austin mayor Will Wynn once stepped out of his car to ”spew a fog of profanity” at a big-rig truck blocking morning commuters on Fifth Street. He later apologized, but his constituents might have been sympathetic: No other U.S city of its size compares to Austin when it comes to traffic. The small but fast-growing Texas capital consistently ranks with big-leaguers like New York and L.A. as the nation’s most congested metros. And with the city’s expected 30 percent population increase by 2025, things aren’t getting any better.

Which is why some Texans are praying for an answer in the sky: a gondola. The ​Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority ​board ​voted Wednesday to fund a portion of a $15,000 viability study for an 8-mile “urban cable” line along the busy thoroughfare of South First Street. It’s a significant step—very few such proposals in the U.S. have gotten further than the blogosphere.