The only bid received was $11 million greater than the state appropriation.
Saturday, January 27, 2024, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
The Cannon Mountain tramway project has hit another roadblock, as the only bid received was $11 million greater than the state appropriation, according to a bid document first shared by liftblog.com.
The current aerial tramway was installed by Agudio Corp. of Italy between 1978 and 1980 at a cost of $4.6 million with a reported 80-year engineered lifespan. 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 a recent $400,000 carriage assembly rebuild. According to the Union Leader, circa 2021 the tramway cost between $350,000 and $500,000 per year to operate and maintain. The only other tramway in New England is located at Jay Peak, which was installed in 1966 and refurbished in 2016 for $4.9 million. The Cannon Mountain tramway has operated part-time during the ski season since 2008.
Talk of a replacement began circa 2021 when state management looked maximize federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. At the time, Cannon management estimated the cost of a rebuild at $15 million and a full replacement at $20 to $30 million, citing figures provided by Doppelmayr. Federal funding was sought, as Cannon Mountain is unable to self-fund the project (capital projects in recent years have been financed by the state general fund, Mt. Sunapee lease revenue, and the Franconia Ski Club). When efforts to secure ARPA funds were unsuccessful, state funding was sought.
A group of state senators, led by Senator Carrie Gendreau, passed a bill that would have allocated $25 million in state general funds to the tramway project, while Governor Chris Sununu urged a gondola solution. Proponents of a tramway cite the cachet of the lift, option of reusing certain components, and its ability to operate in higher winds, while advocates for a gondola cite a significantly higher uphill capacity (700 persons per hour for the Cannon tram install vs. 2,800 persons per hour for the Killington K1 gondola install), an assumed lower cost of installation and maintenance (compared to a new tramway), and better availability of parts.
The state allocation was reduced to $18 million "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, 2023.
The New Hampshire Department of Public Works handled the bidding for the tramway project, pre-qualifying Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr, the latter company having a decades-long relationship with the state. Doppelmayr declined to bid on the project.
Leitner Poma's $29 million bid was $11 million more than the state appropriation of $18 million. The project reportedly would have replaced controls, cabins, and line equipment, retaining existing terminals, towers, and other equipment.