M/cloudy
26°
M/cloudy
Hi 34° | Lo 25°

Berkshire East aims to build alpine coaster

  • The design plan in the special permit application shows the mile-long path of the Alpine Mountain Coaster planned for Berkshire East. The straight lines show the 1,575-foot pathway up the mountain; the squiggly line shows the 3,775 foot descent down the mountain.

    The design plan in the special permit application shows the mile-long path of the Alpine Mountain Coaster planned for Berkshire East. The straight lines show the 1,575-foot pathway up the mountain; the squiggly line shows the 3,775 foot descent down the mountain.

  • The design plan in the special permit application shows the mile-long path of the Alpine Mountain Coaster planned for Berkshire East. The straight lines show the 1,575-foot pathway up the mountain; the squiggly line shows the 3,775 foot descent down the mountain.

    The design plan in the special permit application shows the mile-long path of the Alpine Mountain Coaster planned for Berkshire East. The straight lines show the 1,575-foot pathway up the mountain; the squiggly line shows the 3,775 foot descent down the mountain.

  • The design plan in the special permit application shows the mile-long path of the Alpine Mountain Coaster planned for Berkshire East. The straight lines show the 1,575-foot pathway up the mountain; the squiggly line shows the 3,775 foot descent down the mountain.
  • The design plan in the special permit application shows the mile-long path of the Alpine Mountain Coaster planned for Berkshire East. The straight lines show the 1,575-foot pathway up the mountain; the squiggly line shows the 3,775 foot descent down the mountain.

CHARLEMONT — Berkshire East Ski Resort has figured out yet another way to send people racing down its Thunder Mountain — summer or winter: on a mile-long Alpine Mountain Coaster.

If built, says Christopher Lotfus, marketing director for Berkshire East, “it will be the largest mountain coaster in North America.”

For those who have never seen one, mountain coasters look something like roller coasters close to the ground running on a steel track up to a mountain top, then descending through several winding curves back to the starting point. They can be operated year-round and are becoming popular attractions at ski resorts. Since Berkshire East is now running zip line canopy tours from spring through fall, the mountain coaster would be another way to see the views from the ski mountain, at any time of year.

On Dec. 19, the town Planning Board will hold a special permit hearing for the mountain coaster and related buildings at the ski area. The meeting will be held in Town Hall at 7 p.m.

According to design plans filed with the special permit application, the mile-long track planned for Berkshire East includes a 1,575-foot “lift length” taking participants up the mountain, and a 3,775-foot track that winds down the mountain — for a vertical drop of 400 feet.

The permit request also includes a 24-by-60-foot motor cart storage building and a mountain top attendant hut.

The coaster is manufactured by Alpine Products, a subsidiary of Aquatic Development Group Inc. According to the company’s website, the motor carts’ safety features include collision-avoidance systems that monitor cart speed and proximity. Speed-restricters are set at a not-to-exceed limit, and brake lights warn riders when the cart ahead slows down. Brakes apply automatically if the rider gets too close to the cart ahead. The system mounts directly to the ground.

The coasters are designed to be a year-round attraction for both skiers and non-skiers at resort areas.

Berkshire East has added several innovations over the last five years. In 2009, it added zip line canopy tours at its 950-acre site. In 2011, the ski resort began generating its own electricity with a 900-kilowatt wind turbine on the property. The resort now generates enough renewable energy for all its electricity needs — including snow-making — from the windmill and from a 500-kilowatt solar farm on its property, off East Hawley Road.

Last year, the ski resort invested $1 million in new snow-blowing equipment, and can now make three times as much snow as it could before. This fall, the ski resort expanded its lodge.

Pending the right weather conditions, Berkshire East hopes to open for the skiing season on Dec. 14.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.