Halfway between Denver and Summit County’s ski resorts, 22 million vehicles a year transit I-70 in the town of Idaho Springs. Local businesswoman Mary Jane Loevlie sees an opportunity for 400,000 of them to stop and take a gondola ride from the historic Argo Mill and Tunnel to a new summit plaza. The Colorado Sun reports a group of investors led by Loevlie has partnered with Leitner-Poma to build The Mighty Argo Cable Car, an eight passenger gondola system in what was once a mining boom town. “We are marrying outdoor recreation and heritage tourism at a reclaimed EPA Superfund site,” said Loevlie at a community gathering yesterday. “You know what, we are putting the fun in Superfund.”
The concept resembles Silver Mountain, Idaho, a successful public-private partnership that saw construction of a 3.1 mile gondola adjacent to Interstate 90 atop of one of the nation’s largest EPA cleanup sites. The Colorado project initially focused on constructing a hotel, conference center and stores but morphed to begin with the gondola due to revenue potential. The 10 minute lift ride would ascend 1,300 vertical feet to a restaurant and park. Capacity would be 600 visitors per hour, modest by ski lift standards. Bike carriers would be included for adventurous guests seeking to take advantage of nearby trails.
Local approval for the project is still pending but it’s possible the gondola could launch as soon as next summer. The Mighty Argo Cable Car would join an elite group of scenic tramways and gondolas across Colorado: the Estes Park Tramway, Glenwood Gondola, Monarch Crest Scenic Tram and Royal Gorge Gondola, all of which were constructed by Leitner-Poma and its predecessor companies.