State to Request $15 Million More for Cannon Tramway Project
The current $18 million budget was inadequate for the requested scope.
Tuesday, April 30, 2024,

Cannon Tram

The New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is requesting an additional $15 million for the Cannon tramway renovation project, according to a letter from commissioner Sarah Stewart that was shared with InDepthNH. The estimated price tag is now $33 million.

An appropriation for $18 million "for the maintenance and operation of the tramway at Cannon Mountain" was as part of the biennial budget signed by Governor Chris Sununu on June 20, 2023. However, when the state went to bid for the project, the only response, from Leitner Poma, was $11 million greater than budgeted. The project reportedly would have replaced controls, cabins, and line equipment, retaining existing terminals, towers, and other equipment. Cannon's longtime lift vendor, Doppelmayr, declined to bid on the project.

Like the $18 million appropriation, the prospective additional $15 million would come from the state general fund, not from Cannon Mountain funds. Cannon's previous aerial lift project, the Mittersill double chairlift, was also financed using the state general fund.

According to Stewart, the tramway is reaching end of life. The lift 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.

Governor Chris Sununu has urged the state to look into 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.

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