City to study possibility of aerial tramway connecting Queen Mary to Downtown

The dreams of Go-Big-or-Go-Home in Downtown Long Beach have never run short: The re-construction of the Cyclone roller coaster. Developer Russell Geyser’s “Tower of Toscana,” a $100 million ode to Tuscany and retail. The Port Disney complex that would have entirely altered our shoreline. Hell, Queen Mary Island, though just proposed, still feels like a very, very far off dream.

One of those dreams maybe-perhaps-might take a tangible step forward when the City Council formally examines the possibility of looking into the feasibility of an aerial tramway from the Queen Mary to the shores of Downtown Long Beach. (And yes, that has been proposed before as well by Former Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Alex Bellehumeur.)

Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce authored an agenda item for Tuesday asking city staff to work with Urban Commons (which operates the Queen Mary) and other stakeholders to look into making an aerial tram possible, both construction- and funding-wise.

Dubbed “The Wave,” the tram project will be headed by Clay Sandidge, president of Muni-Fed Energy Inc. (He pitched the idea to the Long Beach Commercial Real Estate Council last year using aerial tramway company Doppelmayr USA as an example. They are most commonly known for their ski lifts but, if one were to imagine what their work in Long Beach would look like were they to be granted the work; it would most likely resemble their Koblenz tri-cable gondola lift in Germany, which opened in 2010).

The initial proposal is just that: a proposal—and one that will be vastly affected by environmental concerns, finances, community involvement, and—truly important here—a massively strong partnership between multiple entities. This isn’t even to mention the construction logistics, let alone who will actually construct it

“This is an exciting time for both our Downtown and waterfront areas,” Pearce said. “But for this project to go forward, it must show a real financial path with multiple stakeholders; no one company can make this happen. If all that proves true, then anything is possible.”

Even more, we have the likelihood of the Angels building a stadium in the Elephant Lot and the lingering 2028 Olympics, at which Long Beach is a key host—each of which could be a deciding factor as well. On the one hand, you have potential fans from games looking to explore the city more. On the other, the likelihood of visitors and athletes using both hotels on the southern shores near the Queen Mary means an aerial tram could provide quick transit that goes beyond simple tourism.

Then, beyond the We’re-Here!-and-We’re-Gone! nature of the Olympics, this would be a permanent fixture if built—and that has implications for folks who live here.

“I want to emphasize that, outside all the talk around the idea, we need to first and foremost take seriously how we support the community that makes Long Beach a diverse thriving community,” Pearce said. “I’ll be looking at these solutions alongside the advancements we continue to make.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.