BreckConnect Gondola turns one
BRECKENRIDGE – The BreckConnect Gondola had its first birthday Monday on New Year’s Eve.And while it seemed there were a few stumbling blocks as it took its first season runs, kinks have been worked out and the gondola is doing just what the resort and Town of Breckenridge hoped it would, said officials from both the resort and Town. It is taking more vehicles off the road to Peak 8 and connecting Main Street to the mountain, they added.”Overall, the operation side went well,” said Town of Breckenridge Manager Tim Gagen.
Nicky DeFord, senior communications manager for Breckenridge Ski Resort said, “It’s a great way to get to the mountain.”The gondola is a 10-minute ride from the Breckenridge Transportation Center to the Peak 8 terminal, with two mid-stations at Shock Hill and the Peak 7 base area. It has 121 cabins and a capacity of 3,000 people per hour. The resort does not have an exact count of how often it was used last season, but “it’s definitely been utilized as much as we thought it would,” DeFord said.In March of 2006, the resort announced plans to build the gondola to enhance the skier experience – something that had been talked about in the community for 20 years, according to a press release at the time of the announcement.Part of the agreement was also that the gondola would reduce the number cars and buses on the road to Peak 8, said Gagen. That happened with cars, but not the buses as a precaution in the first year, he added. However, a downgrading of the ski resort buses to Peak 8 is planned.
When dealing with a complex machine, some problems are to be expected, but “we’ve got great mechanics,” DeFord said. “We’ve worked through all that and it’s running smooth now.”Of the total about $21 million gondola and ski back by Mountain Thunder Lodge project, the Town committed about $6.7 million. Town staff estimated it would be repaid within about eight to 10 years through the development going up in that area with the sale of units and real estate transfer tax, Gagen explained. Already they have more than $1 million back, he added. In the future, representatives from the ski resort may approach the Town about running the gondola more often, partly because of the development going on at Peaks 7 and 8.The primary reason it doesn’t run at night now is for the protection of Cucumber Gulch, DeFord said.The Town staff expects the ski area will come to them at some point to talk about getting approvals to run the gondola at night or in the summer. The original agreement for it is to be able to run an hour before the ski resort opens and an hour after it closes, Gagen said. The Town wanted to see what kind of impact it may have to Cucumber Gulch before it considered other times, he added.
Next winter may be the first time the evening request comes in, Gagen said.DeFord agreed that while running the gondola more frequently is not something they need now, it is something that will come up in the future.”We want to continue to build our relationship with the Town and to do things like this,” she said, adding that such a great partnership between a ski resort and Town is unusual.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at email@example.com.
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