Transport authorities in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, plan to restore a Soviet-era cable car line more than 30 years after a deadly accident shut down the service.
Work has begun to restore the lower cable car station, which was typical of Soviet post-war monumental architecture. Located on Rustaveli Avenue, the grand station has fallen into disrepair after decades of neglect.
The new cable car line, known locally as a "ropeway," will link the lower part of Tbilisi to Mtatsminda Park, which towers 770 meters above the capital.
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze says the restoration project will cost 50 million Georgian lari or almost $16 million.
Workers have demolished several buildings so the old cable car station can be expanded.
A digger knocks down walls next to the old cable car station.
Arches adorn the entrance of the lower cable car station that is located in the courtyard of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences on Rustaveli Avenue.
Two spiral walkways inside the grand Rustaveli Avenue station will be refurbished.
The derelict boarding platform of Tbilisi's Soviet-era cable car station.
Graffiti lines the walls and windows of the cable car station.
Workers told RFE/RL that several youths begged them to leave some of the graffiti intact but they said that seemed unlikely.
The Rustaveli Avenue-Mtatsminda Park cable car line opened in 1959. It went past the Mtatsminda Pantheon, a burial site for legendary Georgian authors, dancers, and national heroes.
The service was stopped following the Soviet Union's deadliest cable car accident on June 1, 1990, in which 19 people were killed and more than 40 were injured.
The cabins were overcrowded and most of the passengers were school children visiting Tbilisi on a sightseeing tour to celebrate Children’s Day.
The accident occurred when a hauling cable broke, sending one cabin slamming into Rustaveli Avenue station.
A second cabin that was approaching the upper station on Mount Mtatsminda began rolling backward at high speed.
It was torn apart when it hit the broken hauling cable and tower.
Some of the victims fell 20 meters onto the buildings below.
An investigation later found that an emergency brake system had not been installed when the cabins were replaced.
Officials say the new cable car line will be safe and modern.
It will be similar to the cable car line that currently brings passengers to Tbilisi's Narikala Fortress and crosses the Mtkvari River.
Crews have broken ground for the construction of the upper cable car station on Tbilisi's Mount Mtatsminda.
Officials say the new cable car line will be capable of carrying up to 1,200 passengers per hour.
Tbilisi's mayor says the new cable car line is scheduled to be operational by the end 2022.