August Tram Diaries - The Countdown Is On!
By: Lauren M. Whaley
Glistening with new fire engine red paint, the two new tram cars sit in a warehouse in Olten, Switzerland awaiting inspection.
If the tram cars are the gestating babies, the Garaventa and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are the new parents scurrying around, making sure everything is in its place at the nursery before the newborn's arrival.
With only a few months to go before the first box, crews are holding steady at 13 hour workdays six days a week. They've had the sunshine and the deadlines on their side.
"Once the weather improved in mid-June, Garaventa made progress extremely fast," says Tim Mason, vice president of operations for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. "it's been going at a rapid pace ever since. Everything is on schedule."
At the base, the new 80-foot clock tower and lower terminal are starting to resemble their titles.
"It's going to be even more of an icon than it was before," Mason says of the clock tower. "Everyone will know where you mean when you say, 'meet ya at the clock tower.' It's gonna be big."
What was once a construction site with crews tying rebar is now an actual motor room filled with two big electric motors, the huge gear box, the big auxiliary drive and other small generators.
Resort staff members are currently shopping around for different color stains for the room, as it will soon become an industry "show piece," Mason says.
Outside the lower terminal, Delcon and Lower Valley Energy are working on electricity and wiring. They're moving transformers and wires from the hill next to Nick Wilson's to further down toward the lower terminal. They hope to have a test around August 4 to see if the electric can handle a tram load.
When you gaze up Rendezvous Mountain, you see wildflowers, trails and five bright and shiny new Towers.
Tower 2 construction proved a bit difficult because of its off-road location.
"There's no crane or all-terrain forklift to help build it," Mason explains. "So, crews used the needle crane, which is run by three or four winches on a plate at the base of a tower. Once it gets too high for the needle crane, crews hoist the crane itself on top of the tower and the new tower supports the needle crane. And thus, it's a longer method, but when you can't get there by vehicle, it's your only alternative."
Crews winched up the saddles, which will hold the heavy duty track ropes. Mason says they had to take the saddles apart to lift them, then reassemble them on the tower.
Tower 5 took some graceful negotiating with slope angle and saddle weight as well.
"Crane operator Hans Berghart from Squaw Valley drove the crane into the exposed area to drag off the old saddles," Mason says. "It was interesting to watch. Very technically challenging."
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort crews are assessing the lay of the land surrounding the upper terminal and brainstorming ways to increase foot traffic efficiency and make the dock more accessible for people with disabilities.
"We're trying to keep it natural, while also making it more user friendly," Mason says. "And we're trying to keep up with Garaventa's pace. They're sticking to the schedule and we are too. They don't mess around."
To see more Tram diaries from the past,
Be sure to stayed tuned to SkiNet.com for the latest information on Jackson Hole’s
slated to be complete in December.