Manitoba

Cable car to move Winnipeggers across Red River?

Winnipeggers could one day be using an aerial cable car to get across the Red River between St. Vital Centre and the University of Manitoba if a proposal to be considered by city councillors Tuesday comes to fruition.

Winnipeggers could one day be using an aerial cable car to get across the Red River between St. Vital Centre and the University of Manitoba if a proposal to be considered by city councillors Tuesday comes to fruition.

The cable car idea emerged after an earlier report found it would be too expensive to build a footbridge across the river to join the communities.

A report to be tabled Tuesday at a meeting of the city's infrastructure renewal and public works committee outlines four options for potential gondola systems, with construction costs starting at $3 million. 

Operating costs were not estimated, but a similar system in Oregon state costs $1.7 million per year to run, the report says.

"This could actually connect all the way out to Pembina Highway," St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel told CBC News on Monday.

"It could have a station in SmartPark — the business incubator at the University of Manitoba — and I'm sure there's other places in the city that it's a cost-effective way of moving people [to]."

Four route options considered

While the report suggests too few people would use the system to make it feasible — an estimated 500 return trips per day if all U of M students residing in the area switched from carpooling or bus transit to the cable car —  Swandel says he plans to argue that point.

"I think there's many other folks both on the Fort Garry or Fort Richmond side of the river and also on the St. Vital side of the river that would use this to connect between the two communities," he said Monday.

The report identifies four possible options for gondola systems, each of them at least 6.5 metres above normal summer river levels: 

  • From St. Vital Shopping Centre to Robson Hall,  the U of M's law building, a 2.2-kilometre, nine-minute detached gondola ride, with an estimated construction cost of $8.2 million.
  • From land behind the 1700 block of St. Mary's Road to the U of M's Fletcher-Argue Building, a 1.5-kilometre, eight-minute trip by pulse gondola, with an estimated cost of $4 million.
  • From Henteleff Park to the Drake Centre on Freedman Crescent, a 250-metre, three-minute pulse gondola trip, at $3 million.
  • From St. Amant Centre on River Road to Robson Hall, a 300-metre, two-minute pulse gondola trip, at $3 million.

In a "pulse" gondola system, passenger cars are fixed to cables, so when a car stops to allow passengers on or off, all cars in the system also stop.  In a "detached gondola" system, one car can stop while the others continue moving.

Although the city isn't venturing into new capital projects because of budget constraints, a gondola system could have sponsorship potential, Swandel said.

Since it would be considered part of the city's transit system, the province might also consider contributing to the project, he said.

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