Ski area projects near completion

Mid-mountain lift not ready to open this season, official says

Posted: Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Construction at Eaglecrest Ski Area went well this summer for two of four projects, but the Mid-Mountain chairlift will not open this ski season.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File

Chairlift construction was delayed by rainy weather, General Manager Kirk Duncan said Tuesday.

A road and associated electrical power to the top of the mountain is nearing completion, and construction on a new beginner chairlift did not get off the ground, he said.

The projects are the first part of a three-year improvement plan at the city-owned mountain.

"It would be nice to have all four of them done, but it just wasn't realistic given all the situations we have to deal with," Duncan said.

Most of the concrete pads for the Mid-Mountain lift were poured, and the 27 towers will be placed before the ski season begins, he said.

No time frame had been set for the $1.13 million project that will help skiers access the east side of the mountain.

Unexpected delays in the process to gain a required permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stalled the other lift project this summer, Duncan said.

The beginner lift would replace one that is not conducive to learning because it's difficult for snowboarders to use.

"It's very high priority for us," Duncan said.

The city submitted two different applications this year for permits at the area, but the Corps in an Aug. 6 letter asked for a combined application, said spokeswoman Pat Richardson.

"It's better when projects are related in function and time to combine them," Richardson said. "It's easier for people to determine cumulative impacts when it's all in one."

The Corps regulates under the Clean Water Act, requiring a permit when fill materials are placed in waters or wetlands.

Duncan said he and engineers would talk with the Corps about the process next week.

"We still have a window, and we hope to get concrete in the ground before November first," he said.

State funding came through faster than expected on the service road, allowing the project to finish in one year instead of two.

Blasting for the $700,000 road neared the 2,600-foot Eagle's Nest warming hut on Tuesday.

The road was constructed to service power lines to an FAA weather station above the hut. The lines will provide reliable power to the station, which is needed for safe airport operations.

The project hit a milestone Tuesday as an electrical crew strung the last lines on a pole in the ski area parking lot. The electricity will eventually allow the area to stop using diesel to power its lifts.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or e-mail

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