Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Aerial Tram Tower Collapses -Ice Jacking Incident Not On Roosevelt Island But At Canada's Whistler Ski Resort

Whistler Gondola accident from CNN

Given the importance of the Roosevelt Island Tram to all who live here, the recent Tram Modernization controversy and prior Tram incidents, residents pay attention any time there is an accident involving another tram anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, such an incident occurred yesterday on the Dopplemayr manufactured Whistler Mountain Excalibur Gondola at a ski resort near Vancouver Canada. According to the Globe and Mail:
A tower in the resort's Excalibur Gondola snapped halfway up where the two halves of the pole were bolted together, said Doug Forseth, the senior vice-president of Whistler-Blackcomb.

He said it was too soon to know what caused the partial collapse, but that the gondola, built in 1994, was "easily" within its lifespan and had passed its annual safety check by the B.C. Safety Authority "within the past six months."
A subsequent report indicates that the cause of the Tram tower collapse is being attributed to extreme cold weather as reported by the Globe and Mail.
Ice build-up after an extreme cold snap caused a gondola tower at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort to collapse, sending at least one cable car careening into a chalet rooftop, injuring 13 passengers, and trapping other skiers for hours in dangling cars.

Water had seeped into the tower where two of its parts are spliced together, the resort operator said in a statement Wednesday. The cold snap had caused the ice to build up and rupture the splice, an "extremely unusual situation referred to as ice-jacking," it said.
Of the 53 trapped tram passengers,
... The RCMP say 13 people suffered minor injuries after being jolted when the tow line stopped abruptly.

Rescued skier Graeme Bell said he was riding the gondola when he felt a sickening lurch and the car dropped and bounced. He escaped with a broken finger and some bruises. Other people in the car with him were also injured....
Dopplemayr is the manufacturer and operator or the current Roosevelt Island Tram. The recent Roosevelt Island Tram modernization project was awarded to a competitor - POMAgalski. Although cold temperatures in New York do not get as low as in British Columbia, I hope the new Roosevelt Island Tram system will take into account the possibility of "ice jacking".

UPDATE - 1:15 PM - Here's how aerial tramway rescue drills are conducted on Roosevelt Island and Portland Oregon.


RI 360 said...

Watching that video and looking at the towe that snapped I take comfort that our three towers are of a different design structurally. The tower that snapped appears to be more of a wide pole design. Granted it all makes you stop and have concern.

That peak to peak span would give me concern just looking at it.

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