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Mountain coaster for Sandia Peak?

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Mountain Technology,

As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, the Sandia Peak Ski Co., which operates Sandia Peak Ski Area, New Mexico, US, is moving forward with its plan to open a mountain roller coaster as a way of attracting visitors throughout the year.

Sandia Peak Ski Co. held an open house yesterday, at which attendees were able to view displays and a timeline of the proposal and give feedback that would be passed on to the US Forest Service; the resort is located on federal land.

Ben Abruzzo, General Manager of the Sandia Peak Ski Area, said that the coaster, first mooted two years ago, is integral to the resort’s ambition to become an income-producing summer recreation area, helping to offset the financial struggles caused by lean snow years.

“It’s just good business to be able to maintain your workforce throughout the year,” Abruzzo said.

The operator plans to invest US$2 million in the project, which would be set up between two existing chairlifts and run for 3 minutes covering a distance of 3000 ft, including a vertical drop of 400 ft. The current site map shows the coaster crisscrossing one of the ski runs. The coaster would affect that course, but Abruzzo said the run is rarely used.

The Forest Service has released a statement saying it “will conduct a thorough environmental analysis to determine the potential effects that the use will have on resources such as wildlife, vegetation, cultural sites and the watershed.” That process includes a public comment period.

Abruzzo said he thought the agency might make a decision in the next six months: “Assuming they say ‘yes,’ construction would begin in spring or summer of 2019, with an opening later that year.”

Should it be given the green light, the coaster will be manufactured by market-leader Wiegand. The company has already installed its Alpine Coaster at five operators on Forest Service land in the western US, including the Vail, Copper Mountain and Purgatory resorts in Colorado.

Image courtesy of Sandia Peak Ski Co.

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