News Roundup: Alterra, Boyne, Powdr and Vail

News Roundup: Moving Steel

News Roundup: Town Halls

New Snowbird Tram Cabin Damaged During Installation

One of the new cabins being installed on Snowbird’s Aerial Tram fell Saturday during installation, causing significant damage. Thankfully the incident occurred in a closed construction area at the base of the mountain and no one was injured. Snowbird said the root cause was some sort of equipment malfunction. “An investigation is under way to determine where the malfunction occurred,” the resort said in a statement. Upgrades to the tram are being carried out by Doppelmayr/Garaventa, the original manufacturer of the tram. The project includes new cabins with rooftop viewing decks, new controls, bullwheels and other upgrades.

The modern red and blue cabins were manufactured in Switzerland by CWA Constructions and had just arrived in Utah. Snowbird said Doppelmayr and CWA will work to replace the likely damaged beyond repair red cabin in time for the 2022-23 winter season. Snowbird and Doppelmayr are also also working on a plan to have at least partial tram service for this summer. The tram was originally scheduled to re-open with new cabins in late June.

Aerial tram cabins are custom built with long manufacturing lead times. In 2012, an Alyeska tram car was destroyed after hitting a tower in high winds. Service resumed about six weeks later with one cabin and a second car was installed and operational about five months after the incident. In September 2018, a brand new tram cabin in Germany was written off following a training accident. That tramway reopened just over three months later with a newly-manufactured cabin from CWA.

News Roundup: Chances for Chairs

News Roundup: Mystery Solved

New Tram Cabins Coming to Snowbird

The iconic red and blue tram cars which first came to Little Cottonwood Canyon in 1971 are being replaced. “After 50 years of a job well done, it’s finally time for the original Tram cabins to become literal snowbirds and enjoy some much-deserved retirement,” Snowbird announced today. It is estimated the original cabins have traveled 794,994 miles, or the equivalent of traveling to the moon and back over one and a half times.

Manufactured by CWA in Switzerland, the new cabins will feature floor-to-ceiling windows and a modern design. During the summer months, the tram will sport three 3-foot by 3-foot glass floor panels and an open air rooftop balcony for up to 15 people. “The new Tram cabins pay homage to the original Red and Blue Trams while incorporating a fresh, sleek design and a few extra bells and whistles,” said Snowbird.

The last day to ride the current tram cabins will be April 3rd. The new cabins are already complete and currently being shipped to Utah. Upon arrival in April, the cabins will be installed and tested with re-opening of the tram planned for late June.

News Roundup: First Chair

News Roundup: ConnX

Could a Gondola Solve Little Cottonwood Canyon’s Woes?

Between crush loads of cars, large avalanches and frequent collisions, Utah State Route 210 can be a nightmare in winter. The 13.5 mile road connects the Salt Lake Valley to Little Cottonwood Canyon’s legendary Alta and Snowbird resorts. Utah’s Department of Transportation is currently studying ways to improve mobility in and out of the canyon with a focus on peak winter demand. Starting with 105 possibilities, the DOT last week narrowed its focus to three options: enhanced bus service, bus service combined with road widening and a hybrid bus/gondola option.

Stretching more than eight miles, the gondola would be among the longest in the world with more stations than any 3S system built to date. A tricable design was chosen for its ideal balance of speed, capacity and tower spacing. The lift would begin at the bottom of LCC, pass through an angle station at Tanners Flat and arrive at Snowbird 24 minutes later. Another 10 minute hop would link the eastern terminus at Alta Ski Area. The premise of the gondola is not to replace the road but rather divert a portion of trips to the air. This would be the second lowest capacity 3S ever built with thirty 30 passenger cabins arriving at stations every two minutes. A modest capacity would help manage costs and allow for towers spaced thousands of feet apart.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola could operate in winds up to 68 miles per hour and strategically placed towers could keep it running when snow slides and crashes close the road. Guests and employees would enjoy an aerial journey through the canyon unlike anything in the United States. The system would cost $393 million, $77 million less than road widening but $110 million more than an enhanced bus solution. The gondola itself would run $240 million while the other $153 million is associated infrastructure such as parking and tolling. The aerial option would cost the least to operate, just $4.5 million per year versus $6.2-9 million annually for the bus options.

Continue reading