Courtesy Photo 
This photo shows a gondola in Austria recently purchased by the City and Borough of Juneau for the Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Courtesy Photo This photo shows a gondola in Austria recently purchased by the City and Borough of Juneau for the Eaglecrest Ski Area.

City stuck with extra expensive gondola shipping bill

Assembly agrees to pay more than twice the estimated cost for Eaglecrest lift purchased in Austria.

This story has been updated to note the city did not receive any bids to store the gondola in Austria, not Juneau as originally reported.

Shipping a gondola purchased for Eaglecrest Ski Area from Austria is going to cost the city more than twice as much as estimated — and frustrated Juneau Assembly members and administrators agree there is no choice but to pay.

Also, the city can’t find anyone willing to store the gondola in Austria.

The city signed a $1.34 million contract last month to purchase the 2,430-meter-long Doppelmayr lift built in 1989 from Galsterberg Ski Area. City Manager Rorie Watt told the Assembly at a meeting Wednesday night the original estimate to ship the gondola to Juneau was $400,000, but the lowest bid submitted was from Lynden Logistics for $845,163.50 — and that came after there were no bids by the original deadline that had to be extended.

The only other bid was for about $1.12 million.

In a joint interview during a break, Watt and City Finance Manager Jeff Rogers said there are difficulties accurately estimating shipping costs for such an item, especially given current complications such as a global transport and supply crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Beth Weldon asked Watt if the purchase of the gondola is final — it is and it’s being disassembled in anticipation of arriving in Juneau by May 20 — and what happens if the extra money is not provided?

“We would be in a very difficult position having spent the funds to purchase this gondola,” Watt said. “I cannot think of a good outcome.”

The Assembly approved $500,000 in supplemental funds for the extra shipping and related costs by a 5-2 vote, with Assembly members Carole Triem and Alicia Hughes-Skandijs opposed.

“With money committed what sense does it make not to spend this money tonight….even though I can’t in good conscience put more money toward a process I don’t feel good about in the first place,” said Hughes-Skandijs, who also voted against the purchase of the gondola.

While Triem said “I can’t wait for the day we never have to talk about this again,” the Assembly inevitably is going to face another problem with it soon since the dilemma of where to store it needs to be resolved. There was no discussion about it Wednesday beyond Watt mentioning the absence of bids.

An update was provided on an agreement that may relieve some of the financial sting, as Watt said discussions are progressing with Goldbelt Corp. about providing up to $10 million to help cover installation and operating costs. In exchange, Goldbelt would receive an unspecified portion of revenues during the summer, in anticipation of the gondola and other upgrades turning Eaglecrest into a year-round tourist destination.

“I feel very comfortable that a deal is achievable,” Watt said. He acknowledged “there is some thought among the public there may be a control issue at Eaglecrest,” which is being kept in mind during the discussions.

Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the Week of May 28

Here’s what to expect this week.

The City and Borough of Juneau Harbormaster Enforcement vessel drives past the Dusky Rock which sits at Aurora Harbor. The vessel was towed there from Sandy beach Friday evening after three people died within a three-day period aboard the vessel while anchored offshore. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Three people found dead on boat anchored off Sandy Beach

Drug use a possible factor in deaths of one man and two women during three-day span

The Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding area is seen under an overcast sky on May 12. A federal order published Friday bans mineral extraction activities such as mining in an expanded area of land surrounding the glacier for the next 20 years. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Feds expand ban on mineral extraction near Mendenhall Glacier

20-year prohibition on mining, oil drilling applies to newly exposed land as ice continues retreat

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, June 1, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Bulk food in Food Bank of Alaska’s Anchorage warehouse on April 21. (Photo by Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
State roughly halves the number of Alaskans waiting on food aid, but more than 8,000 remain

By Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon Mary Wood has been waiting for food… Continue reading

A white butterfly rests upon a fern Saturday at Prince of Wales Island. (Courtesy Photo / Marti Crutcher)
Wild Shots

Reader-submitted photos of Mother Nature in Southeast Alaska.

Photos by Lee House / Sitka Conservation Society
Aliyah Merculief focuses on her run while snowboarding at Snow Camp.
Resilient Peoples & Place: Bringing up a new generation of Indigenous snow shredders

“Yak’éi i yaada xwalgeiní” (“it is good to see your face”) reads… Continue reading

A polar bear feeds near a pile of whale bones north of Utqiaġvik. (Courtesy Photo /Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Polar bears of the past survived warmth

In a recent paper, scientists wrote that a small population of polar… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 31, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read