(Teton Village, WY., June 24, 2005) – Jackson Hole’s Aerial Tram in Teton Village will be retired at the end of the 2006 summer season after 40 years of tireless service, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort officials announced today.
JHMR owners, the Kemmerer Family, in conjunction with Resort Management have decided that, while experts assess the aerial tram would be operable for multiple years, it should be decommissioned before any safety concerns arise. As a result, the Aerial Tram will close September 2006 after 40 years of incredible service.
“This decision has been extremely difficult and quite honestly a very sad one. However, our family is committed to a zero risk approach, so we think this proactive stance is the best. Forty years is a long service for any type of machinery, and it is time this “old lady” retires. We know this may impact our business, business to Jackson Hole and the State, but we are committed to the best long term solution for all our constituencies. We must move on,” commented Jay Kemmerer, Owner JHMR.
Jerry Blann, president of JHMR, said, “The Tram is nearing the end of her natural life – she’s a child of the 60’s that’s been going 100% summer and winter and has earned a graceful retirement.”
“No doubt, this is a very difficult announcement to make – the tram is part of Wyoming’s signature tourism image – but we want to be direct and honest with the public and invite you all to the Tram’s big retirement party,” he said.
“We are currently looking at long term strategies and planning to add millions more to the mountain. The Tram replacement would be $20 million on top of already $55 million invested on the mountain to date. That’s a costly proposition and we will need to have the support of the public and possibly the state to be able to move forward with a Tram replacement alternative,” Blann said.
The Aerial Tram is a nationally and internationally recognized icon for Jackson Hole and Wyoming. The significance of decommissioning this critical attraction is not being underestimated by JHMR officials and they will start an immediate outreach to season passholders, state and local officials and other important stakeholders. The following priorities have been identified as key planning initiatives:
1. Analysis of complete tram replacement – initial estimates $20 million
2. Analysis of alternative lift combinations – Gondola/Chair systems
3. Funding possibilities for a new lift system
4. Timeline on replacement lift system
Considering the future of the aerial tram has been part of a greater discussion at the Resort. Since the Kemmerer Family took ownership in 1992 they have invested $55 million into lift and base area capital improvements. This commitment reaches into the future with:
1. Sweetwater Triple ChairLift currently being installed.
2. Bridger Center Remodel to take place this summer.
3. Construction for a full service restaurant at the top of the Bridger Gondola for Winter 06/07
4. A complete mountain review is underway to study all the lifts for efficiency, capacity and potential improvement.
Blann reiterated that he hopes the public, local, state and federal officials will join in a strategic tourism plan that includes ways to enable a replacement of the Tram.