Aerial tram studied for Hwy 3 at 3rd St.

tram Encouraged by the reception to their study of a tunnel under the Hwy. 19 railroad crossing (see pages 5-7 of this PDF update), engineers at Bolton and Menk announced this morning that they’re studying the advantages of an aerial tram across Hw3 at 3rd St.

It would connect the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce to downtown Northfield near Bridge Square.

“We think this is a perfect example of our firm’s ability to ‘think outside the bridge’ said consultant Kris Chroamdoam. "Not only would this solve the problem of connecting both sides of Northfield for pedestrians, it could be a huge tourist attraction.”

Councilor Jim Pokorney, the only member of the Council to vote against the $50,000 study (officially called the Hwy 3 & 19 Multimodal Transportation Study) could not be reached for comment as he reportedly was on his way to visit the Aerial Tram in Portland Oregon.


  1. I’m not going to take any of this consulting company’s recommendations seriously until they study the only truly viable option: a slingshot/catapult. Get some xtreme tourists in town each weekend of the summers, and the thing will pay for itself.

    August 10, 2009
  2. Curt Benson said:

    Christopher, you have neglected the underground pneumatic tube option. Analogous to the tubes that transport bank transactions from automobile to teller window in drive through banks, pneumatic tubes provide a quiet smooth ride. The engineering has already been done–one need only upsize the dimensions.

    Remember, it only costs a little more to go first class!

    Are you listening, Bolton, Menk?

    August 10, 2009
  3. Curt, I suspect you have undisclosed financial interests in pneumatic-tube makers. As is well known, the tubes, in manipulating air-pressure differentials, run the risk of causing significant pain to users’ ear drums. In this time of financial crisis, the city can’t afford to purchase and distribute chewing gum to every tube user.

    A catapult, on the other hand, would expose users to great gusts of fresh air and a good view of the surroundings.

    August 10, 2009
  4. Christopher and Curt, you’re both wrong and really quite stupid.

    Obviously, a lock and dam system for cars is the best option.

    Failing that, my second choice would be a large waterslide starting at Malt-O-Meal and depositing the screaming passengers (and – bonus! – modestly cleaner cars) on the 5th Street bridge.

    August 10, 2009
  5. Curt Benson said:

    Sorry, Christopher, I am not involved financially with the pneumatic-tube makers.

    However, I am thinking of starting a consulting firm. You sound like a man of vision. Would you care to join me?

    I have a copy of Powerpoint. If you have a shiny pair of shoes and a familiarity with the Meredith Wilson’s “Music Man”, I believe we have what it takes to succeed in that business.

    August 10, 2009
  6. I have nearly four different ties, Curt, and most of a suit. I’ll gladly join your “consulting” company. I think I can script my way into the voters’ hearts with selective sepia-toned narrative nostalgia of the old lock and dam systems that helped settle the great state of Minnesota.

    Who wouldn’t want to relive that history at every crossing of Highway 3?

    August 10, 2009
  7. Curt Benson said:

    Brendon, if I had been aware that you too were A Man of Vision, and had nearly four different ties, and most of a suit, you would have been the first one invited to join our “consulting” firm.

    I have one concern–are your ties and most of a suit of a men’s style or women’s? We have standards to uphold at Benson, Tassava, and Etter.

    If we pool our clothing–and I think I might have a vest (last worn in sixth grade confirmation class)–we will be well on our way to success in the growing field of “consulting”.

    August 10, 2009
  8. One change: Benson, Etter And Tassava — “You can’t BEAT ’em, Overpay ’em!”

    August 10, 2009
  9. David Henson said:

    Interesting ideas but the tram is already being tied into a new festival – “Moonraker – the Defeat of Jaws Days”

    August 10, 2009
  10. I think the engineers were inspired by the suggestions about blimps, hot air balloons, dirigibles and the like here on Locallygrown.
    By the way, linking the Chamber of Commerce location to downtown is a good idea, however it is accomplished. Do tourists really find it in its current location? Do most locals even know where it is?

    August 10, 2009
  11. Curt, consider your proposal accepted. I do, in fact, have a pair a shiny shoes (one black, one brown!), as well as a hurdygurdy. I’ll brush up the “Music Man” lyrics before we file our LLC paperwork. Just to let you know, though, I categorically refuse to subcontract any services to Brendon Etter, except those related to very short plays.

    August 10, 2009
  12. Excellent, Christopher! Sounds like you’ll be doing the leg work then. I’ll stick to the razzle-dazzle…

    August 12, 2009
  13. Saw that, David… I’ll sic Attorney Britt Ackerman on them post-haste!

    August 12, 2009
  14. David Henson said:

    Brendon, have Britt conduct the legal proceeding via Twitter and charge you per character – save a bunch of money.

    August 12, 2009
  15. john george said:

    Susan- What Chamber of Commerce office? Anyway, whether we do dirigibles or aerial trams, I’m sure the decision will be up in the air for a long time.

    August 13, 2009
  16. John, I am of course referring to the Chamber of Commerce Office hiding out at 205 3rd Street West. Lots of good tourist information available there (including the “Froggy Times” which I edit) but I suspect the Northfield Historical Society reaches more tourists with the array of handouts available right downtown.

    August 13, 2009
  17. David Ludescher said:

    There is currently a proposal that calls for an overhead pedestrian bridge at 3rd Street. Seriously! It raises the ethical question of whether Northfield should move ahead with dumb and wasteful ideas if the Federal government is paying.

    My answer – No. If we won’t spend our own money on “Ted Stevens” projects, we shouldn’t be spending someone else’s money.

    August 17, 2009
  18. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Curt. I notice Suzy Rook doesn’t indicate the source for her story. There’s nothing posted to the City’s web site. The $50,000 that we paid to Bolton & Menk for the grant app hasn’t yet warranted an update to the project web site:

    February 19, 2010
  19. Erica Zweifel said:

    Griff, We did not pay Bolton and Menk for a grant application, we paid them for a transportation study of the HWY 3 corridor. The study is being used by the council to vision and plan the future of the HWY 3 corridor. We did accelerate the time-line for the study to take advantage of the federal stimulus opportunity. We will continue to use the study for enhancement grants and whatever opportunities present themselves in the future. For myself the study was extremely helpful in prioritizing the pedestrian access and crossings possible on the HWY.

    February 19, 2010
  20. kiffi summa said:

    Griff…to be fair, the link you provided is to the Bolton and Menk (consulting engineers website) not the NF city website. I don’t imagine the engineers are too anxious to advertise that a project they advised on was not successful.

    I think the most important aspect of that application was the staff and council rationale for going after the grant $$, even if not successful. Both staff and some of the councilors kept saying that whether or not NF got the grant money now, the information developed by B/M about these speculative engineering projects would always be useful in the future. But would needs or engineering solutions be the same in future years if these projects came back?
    And that seems very speculative to me, acknowledging that the city is likely to be on a short funds tether for some years.

    If money is so tight that the city administrator tells council that now we will have to start cutting services to citizens, then I think it is long past the time when projects be evaluated by a system of cost benefit analysis, which David Koenig advocated for… what .. 8-10 years ago?

    P.S. accepted good journalism standard: 2 verifications for each fact…

    February 19, 2010
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    Erica, granted, I worded that poorly, but would you really have voted to spend $50K on a transportation study last summer in the middle of LGA cutbacks if there hadn’t been the pot of federal stimulus money available?  

    The Results page on the Bolton & Menk lists one result: the TIGER app. It’s safe to assume that they submitted the app, isn’t it?

    The Nfld News wrote last June:

    About a month ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $1.5 billion worth of stimulus grants to be doled out through 2011 for projects between $20 million and $300 million. To apply, the city will order a $50,000 study of transit issues along the two highways and target congestion-prone areas.

    I’m not holding you accountable for the paper’s reporting but I don’t remember anyone on the Council objecting to their characterization. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    February 19, 2010
  22. David Ludescher said:

    Erica: You say that it was extremely helpful in prioritizing the pedestrian access and crossings. How can the information obtained be used to affect the access? My experience is that MNDoT controls that intersection lock, stock, and barrel.

    February 19, 2010
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    Time to dust off this faux news piece from 2009, since the City of Northfield and MNDOT are negotiating about what’s feasible for this intersection. MNDOT won’t pay for a traffic light but the Streetscape Task Force might.

    And consider this news from Atlantic Cities: Forget Subways. Austin Needs Mass Transit Gondolas.

    December 6, 2012

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