BRANSON, Mo. – American Gondola will host a public meeting next week on its multi-million dollar plans to transform transportation in Branson.
The proposal would build an eight-mile air transit system from the Branson Landing to Silver Dollar City and back-– alleviating some of the driving headaches for visitors.
“Allowing people to go up and down the strip without being in and out of their cars [or worrying] about parking,” says American Gondola president, Jeff Green.
KOLR 10 last spoke with Green in October of 2015. Since then the company has been meeting with local business owners and refining construction plans.
One change is that the eight-to 12-person gondolas would be air conditioned during the summer and heated during the winter.
“Since [Highway] 76 snakes quite a bit, and since we have to run in a straight line, we’re not going to be on Highway 76 that much,” he says. “However, the terminal locations, where people get on and off, will be right on 76.”
Green says there would be 10 to 12 terminals located a short distance away from some of the city’s most popular attractions.
“I think most everyone looks at it with some intrigue,” says Branson city administrator, Bill Malinen, “and thinks it could be a real nice addition to the city. Both from a tourist attraction type of project and also as a people mover.”
Malinen says the city has been in talks with American Gondola over the last year.
The company is currently waiting on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from the city, which basically assures project investors the Branson Board of Alderman is onboard with the project.
Malinen says that step could ultimately depend on public opinion.
“Once [the public is] informed and they let us know that they’re supportive, then yes, I think that MOU could move over to the board,” he says, “and we could have them consider it.”
The price tag for the project, with the heated and cooled cabins, is now estimated to be between $160- and $200-million.
Green says it would be privately funded and would require a small percentage, roughly 10-percent, of Branson eight-million yearly visitors to be financially viable.
“We’re looking at not only a significant improvement for the people that do come to Branson,” says Green, “but trying to bring in some new blood to Branson as well.”
Green says in a recent study, American Gondola found more than a quarter of those surveyed would come to Branson just to ride the new gondola system.
The public meeting is scheduled for November 7 from 10:30a to 6:30p at Shindigs restaurant in Branson.