Vail, CO Feb. 4--Vail Resorts' officials have unveiled new plans to link the town of Avon with Bachelor Gulch and Beaver Creek via a gondola. The planned three-stage gondola would link Avon with the Tarnes employee housing complex, the new Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bachelor Gulch, and the top of the Strawberry Park Express (Chair 12) in Beaver Creek. Speculation is that the project could cost up to $27 million.
"All we did was we told the Forest Service that we wanted to look at this," said Paul Witt, spokesman for Vail Resorts. "We are keeping all of our options open. But it's something we'd certainly like to do--we don't know how much it would cost or who would pay for it."
Resort officials have not yet set a timeline for the project, which woulddrastically reduce traffic congestion on the main road between Avon and Beaver Creek.
"It would give us an additional portal onto Beaver Creek Mountain that may help alleviate future growth issues for Avon and Beaver Creek," Witt said.
The proposed gondola would start in Avon at the Confluence site, a 32-acre parcel owned by Vail Resorts, just north of Highway 6 and the Eagle River. The Confluence site proposal also includes a convention center, one or possibly two hotels, and a parking structure. Meanwhile, the town of Avon also stands to benefit from the new gondola.
"It gives us some beach-front property that we didn't have before," said Bill Efting, Avon town manager. "We were like a satellite community to Beaver Creek to a certain extent, but the addition of a gondola within the town limit of Avon is a tremendous opportunity for us."
The proposed gondola, much like the one in Telluride, may also be open year-round to provide not only skier access, but access to Beaver Creek Village as an alternative to ground transportation.
According to Dave Ozawa, snow ranger for the Holy Cross District, the Forest Service has not ruled whether it has the time to study the gondola proposal. Currently, the agency's plate is nearly full with the White River National Forest plan revision on top of snowmaking expansion at Vail, a gondola between Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands, expansions at Keystone and Breckenridge, and a new master plan at Copper Mountain.