EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Texas has only one aerial tramway, and it's located in our backyard.
The problem is it was grounded in 2018 for safety reasons. There is a big push to get the Wyler Aerial Tramway up and running again, with legislative dollars already on the way and legislators pushing for more.
The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority is partnering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and has started the renovation process, getting the tramway back on course to take passengers to the top of Ranger Peak in the Franklin Mountains.
“It was a long time ago,” said Becky Mcvay, who rode the tramway when she was nine.
“It was just absolutely gorgeous. It’s something I will never forget, “ she said.
An engineering analysis of the tramway found it had exceeded its life expectancy and was no longer suited for public use.
ABC-7 could not ride the tramway, but we could attach a camera to the gondola to bring you the experience.
The ride begins at the base of the Franklin Mountains and goes to the top of Ranger Peak, providing a view of three states and two countries.
Mcvay reacts to hearing about the grounding of the tramway passengers.
“Well, I was just really sad because a lot of people won’t be able to see their own, their own home. When you go up there, you feel like a big bird that can see everything.”
Right now, the only way to get to the top of Ranger Peak is to hike.
“We’ve secured 10 million. We’re shooting for another 10 million this legislative session. And obviously, we’re gonna explore other areas of funding.” said State Senator Cesar Blanco.
State Senator Blanco is working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which runs the tramway.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is partnering with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority or CRRMA.
“It will still be owned and operated by parks, but RMA will step in to do the design and construction, “ said Raymond Telles, executive director of the CRRMA.
Telles says the upgrades will be done in three phases, the first affecting the tramway base when the entire visitor’s parking lot will be redone, along with a new gift shop and ticket office.
No artist renderings are available yet.
Renovations will include moving the top public viewing area away from tv antennas to a new public viewing area.
“That’s huge because right now, when folks would go up to the existing aerial station if you’ve ever been up there, it's an actual operating radio tower, right? So you’re walking around, there’s signs about radiation, and it’s not a hugely inviting location. So this new one is gonna be just for patrons,” said Telles.
Telles says that it will include a whole new tram with cables leading to the new viewing area.
CRRMA is talking to tramway providers to design a new, safer tramway.
“The most important thing is safety. We don’t want folks going up there on an outdated amenity and then something dangerous happens,” said Senator Blanco.
So the big question on many minds is when will the tramway be up and running?
“We’re hoping that in the next five years, we get something done,” said Blanco.
“It will be years. We’re in design, getting close to the completion of design. But it really depends on the funding, like everything else,” said Telles.
Mcvay tells ABC-7 she would ride the tramway once again. “Oh yes, I would. I would like to take my daughters.”
The tramway would also bring tourist dollars to the Borderland. The closest tramway is the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque. That venue gets as many as 250-thousand visitors each year.