In 2018, a consulting firm report recommended the construction of an aerial tram as one of 29 potential mitigation measures for traffic congestion around Griffith Park and the Hollywood Sign. Now, the City of Los Angeles has engaged in a feasibility study to evaluate potential routes for the proposed gondola line.
The proposed tram, as with systems in cities such as Portland and New York, would require the construction of a series of tower structures which would be used to support cable-driven gondolas. The Griffith Park project is envisioned as a closed-loop system which visitors would access through a single station along the perimeter of the hilly, 4,200-acre green space.
The project team, led by engineering firm Stantec, is evaluated four different alignments for the tram, all of which would originate from the San Fernando Valley side of the park and run to a new viewing platform located roughly 400 feet below the Hollywood Sign.
The first alternative would originate from Travel Town, the railroad museum at the park's northwest corner. Starting from the museum, which is home to a popular miniature railroad, the tram route would run south toward the Griffith Observatory, before veering west toward the Hollywood Sign viewing platform station.
A project fact sheet indicates that this alternative would require the construction of 21 towers and offer a trip time of 12 minutes. While the Travel Town route is considered to have the best terrain and easiest crossing of the power lines which cut through Griffith Park and could impact several sensitive areas.
The second and third alternatives under study would both originate from the L.A. Zoo campus, located along the northeast side of Griffith Park. Each would require the construction of 24 towers and offer a roughly 12-to-13-minute trip.
While the second and third alternatives offer proximity to the I-5 Freeway and large parking lots, both would require a costly crossing of the power lines which cut through the park, and may also conflict with future expansion plans for the zoo.
The fourth alternative, which was added to the study after the initial outreach period, would originate from property owned by Warner Bros. Studios along the far west side of the park.
The Warner Bros. alternative is the shortest and swiftest route under consideration - offering a trip of roughly 6 minutes. The project fact sheet notes that its potential benefits include a potential partnership with Warner Bros, although issues of terrain could lead to higher construction costs, and the location of the viewing platform would result in visual impacts to the Hollywood Sign.
Ridership forecasts posted to the project website anticipate robust use of the proposed gondola system - even without service to the Griffith Observatory. Estimates for off-peak usage range from 3,000 passengers to more than 8,000. Estimates from Peak days range from more than 4,000 to as many as 13,000. However, ridership forecasts rely on the expectation of inexpensive fares, ample parking, and some induced demand.
The project's feasibility study, which is ongoing, will look at its potential to reduce traffic congestion, while also exploring engineering, environmental, and financial hurdles. More information on the project is available at its official website or at pop-up events scheduled for August 27 and 28, as well as a community open house on September 3.
Besides the Griffith Park tram, another gondola project is also in consideration for Los Angeles. In 2018, the private firm Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies announced its intentions to build a similar aerial tram connecting Dodger Stadium with Union Station.
- Griffith Park (Urbanize LA)