City, Encore Casino Studying Two New Gondola Links In Everett
The City of Everett is seeking funds for a $200,000 gondola study that would include ridership projections, conceptual alignments and station designs, permitting needs, and budget estimates.
The City of Everett has submitted a $200,000 grant application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to study the feasibility of an aerial tramway or gondola as a means of public transportation between Everett Square and the city’s new Encore Boston Harbor casino on the Mystic River waterfront.
Grant application materials submitted to the Gaming Commission indicate that the city’s gondola proposal would be studied as a potential extension of a separate gondola link, reportedly being studied by the owners of the Encore, which would carry riders over the Mystic River from the casino to the Assembly Orange Line station to the casino.
“While Encore has advanced plans for a pedestrian bridge, they are also advancing plans for an aerial gondola to create year-round weather-protected means of connecting their Everett facility to the Assembly Row transit station,” according to the City of Everett’s grant application. “This grant would be used to explore whether such an aerial tramway/gondola could be feasibly built and operated further north to Everett Square as a means of public transportation. Such a system would enhance the ability of Everett residents to travel to and from the gaming facility for work and leisure and, combined with Encore’s intended operation of a gondola system from its facility to Assembly, would also provide a direct connection to the MBTA orange line.”
In a separate “scope of work” document, engineers from AECOM outline a $200,000 budget for the study, which would include ridership projections, conceptual alignments and station designs, permitting needs, and budget estimates.
Any gondola connection between the Encore Casino and the Assembly T stop would likely impact the Draw Seven State Park along the Mystic River waterfront in Somerville. The Department of Conservation and Recreation is in the midst of redesigning Draw Seven Park for an extensive renovation project that could go under construction later this year.
AECOM is the same engineering firm that has been designing the proposed Mystic River Bridge between the casino site and the Assembly T stop. Like the gondola proposal, the bridge would connect the casino site to the Orange Line; however, unlike the gondola, the bridge would be constitute a final, crucial link in the Northern Strand Community Trail through Everett, Malden, Saugus, Revere, and Lynn.
That bridge has received most of its necessary permits, but still needs to address a funding gap and coordinate with the MBTA to build a new access point to the Assembly T station before it can go under construction.
As the Boston Globe reported earlier this week, local sustainable transportation advocates are concerned that the gondola proposal may distract Encore and city officials from finishing the long-planned bridge project.
“We don’t want the Northern Strand to dead end at the river,” Amber Christoffersen of the Mystic River Watershed Association in a phone interview on Tuesday.