As of last week, Sugarbush Resort had applied for federal, state and local permits to replace its Valley House double with a fixed-grip quad which would cut the lift's ride time to eight minutes and increase its uphill capacity from 748 to 1,800 passengers per hour.
So far, the resort has received approval from the United States Forest Service for the project and is waiting to hear back from the state's Natural Resources Board and the Warren Development Review Board, Sugarbush director of planning and regulatory compliance Margo Wade told the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) at its meeting on Thursday, April 9.
Wade hopes the permits will be approved quickly as the resort has already closed trails and begun preparing for the reconstruction, "although there may be a little issue with Clay Brook," she said.
In replacing the lift, Sugarbush plans to move its top terminal down the mountain to improve upon a "tricky" intersection on the Valley House Traverse trail that leads to the Upper Snowball trail, Wade said. That portion of the Valley House Traverse trail will also be widened.
As part of the project, the bottom terminal of the lift will also be shifted down the mountain to the base area. In relocating and reconstructing the lift, "Our argument is that we're reducing the noncompliance of the existing building," Wade said, although it will not comply entirely with current codes concerning floodways and riparian buffers surrounding streams. "We're going to test the waters," she said. "No pun intended."
Once it begins, the first step of the lift replacement project will be widening the traverse trail. In preparation, access to Valley House Traverse, Stein's Run, Lixi's Twist, Moonshine, Spring Fling and Snowball has been mostly shut down. Instead, the designated spring skiing routes for the remainder of the season will include Birdland, Organgrinder, Jester, Ripcord and Domino.