Governor Sununu approved the project as part of the new budget this week.
Thursday, June 22, 2023, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Cannon Mountain will be receiving $18 million from the state general fund "for the maintenance and operation of the tramway at Cannon Mountain" as part of the biennial budget signed by Governor Chris Sununu on June 20.
Originally proposed at $25 million in SB55, the outlay was cut to $18 million with the passage of HB2. Rather than a full replacement, the project is expected to reuse certain components from the current lift. Previous statements suggest there may be no tramway service for two winters during to construction.
The first aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain was constructed by the American Steel & Wire Company for a cost of $250,000, opening in 1938 and operating for four decades. The current aerial tramway was installed by Agudio Corp. of Italy between 1978 and 1980 at a cost of $4.6 million. Millions of dollars have been subsequently invested in the lift, including a major overhaul in 2001, a motor rebuild after a well-publicized evacuation in February 2016, and on-going renovation project (including $400,000 recently spent on rebuilding carriage assemblies). The lift has operated part-time during the ski season since 2008 and was closed from March 2020 through May 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
According to an interview with Cannon general manager John DeVivo on the Storm Skiing Podcast, the tramway is about halfway through its 80-year engineered life. New England's only other tramway was installed at Jay Peak in 1966.
Governor Chris Sununu had urged legislators to consider a gondola instead of a new tramway.
Capital projects in recent years at the state-owned and operated Cannon Mountain ski area have been funded by New Hampshire taxpayers, Mt. Sunapee lease revenue, and the Franconia Ski Club. The tramway replacement will be the largest single outlay of state general funds for a ski area.
Cannon Mountain has experienced numerous issues with its aging chairlift fleet in the past year, including "excess wear on 60% of the haul rope grips on the Peabody Express Quad, necessitating immediate replacement," an emergency multi-day maintenance project on the Cannonball Quad, and the Zoomer chairlift being closed for a month during peak season.
While Ski New Hampshire reported a strong 2023-23 season with a 13% increase in skier visits state-wide, Cannon struggled, reporting "Visits were off about 15% on scanned versus old method car counts" and that the season was only break-even (excluding the cost of debt and depreciation).