"I am very proud of our company leading this two and a half year process to a successful conclusion," said Jerry Blann, JHMR President. "This outcome would not have been possible without our dedicated owners, the Kemmerer family and our board of directors. They deserve recognition for their commitment to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton County and the State of Wyoming."
The existing tram will cease public operation Oct. 1 and become a work tram through summer of 2007. JHMR plans to open the new tram in December 2008. Preliminary discussions are taking place with the Forest Service regarding approvals. Uphill capacity will more than double to 650 passengers an hour, pending Forest Service approval. Carney Architects, a local Jackson firm, is developing concepts for bottom and top terminal enclosures.
JHMR considered installing a bi-cable gondola, but several factors dictated a tram. Among them: wind and maintenance issues, and capacity. And finances, of course. "So far we have had to plan on funding the entire project privately," said Blann, as attempts to obtain public funds have failed to materialize. "In conjunction with the $14 million already committed to capital improvements this summer, there will be a strain felt on our company resources. The new tram will ultimately require additional improvements including a redevelopment of Nick Wilson's CafÃ© into a multi-purpose base lodge."
The new tram will be the first major project built under the new ANSI B-77 standard, and it will feature some impressive capabilities. For one, it will be able to operate in 75 mph winds. Critical systems will have multiple backups. "There's never been an installation of this magnitude," Blann said.
JHMR will begin engineering work this summer, then use the existing tram to ferry major components into place next summer. Then the old tram will be decommissioned and the new one built on the same alignment. When completed, it will be the biggest tram installation in North America.
Though the cabin manufacturer hasn't been selected yet, the design will recall the original tram's iconic red box. It will be able to carry twice the weight of the old tram; making it possible to attach and transport a water tank and even a grooming vehicle to the summit under the cabin.