This may sound obvious but a major benefit of planning cable car infrastructure for cities is you can see where you are building. Such cannot be said for subways and, especially in historical cities like Rome, it is a major problem for urban planners and commuters.
In 2014, the first section of Rome’s Line C subway finally opened, years late. The extensions are delayed too. Line B, which opened in 1980, took 20 years to build!
The problem? It seems like whenever and wherever they dig, they find archeological curiosities. These may be treasures or trash. Either way, the discoveries demand that all digging stops — sometimes for years — until experts can determine the historical value. Then, if the site is deemed important, planners and builders have to find a way around the problem. And city councils have to dig for new funds.
Meanwhile grumpy voters choke on car fumes waiting sometimes decades for traffic solutions and public transit.
Cities like Rome have been built on top of themselves. That is, builders constructed new buildings atop the remains of the old. You can discover remnants as far down as 30 meters. Subway tunnels and stations are not a huge problem because they can be built deeper than that. The problem is access: the stairs, egresses and ventilation shafts. In Rome, some carefully planned stations ended up being scrapped altogether.
They say history repeats itself. How appropriate, then, that Emperor Hadrian’s Athenaeum halted the progress of a major Roman station. Hadrian was one who halted the expansion of ancient Rome itself, building a massive wall clear across northern England.
NEW WORLD CITIES SHOULD NOT FEEL SMUG
Buried surprises are not a problem only for the world’s few millennia-old cities. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority was constructing a subway beneath Battery Park and had to stop because diggers found the remains of the city’s original wall from colonial times. Mexico City’s subways unearthed priceless Aztec artifacts. Even relatively young Toronto has mandated that major developments be preceded by archeological digs in case of significant historical finds — and no wonder.
SUBWAY INFRASTRUCTURE IS VERY EXPENSIVE
Halting construction puts people out of work. Temporary traffic detours take on an air of permanence. Budgets are blown. Costs skyrocket.
We wonder, why fight history at all? Surely cable car technology is the way of the future. Smart designers have proven that stations can be built nearly anywhere. (And at the risk of sounding obvious again, there’s no need for egresses or air-shafts!) Imagine a cable car route through central Rome. Picture yourself being whisked by the Coliseum, over the Forum and above congealed Roman traffic. What tourist and commuter wouldn’t pay for that?
The great city builders of the past always looked forward to the future. We believe that modern ones should be looking up.