Ski jumps hit cost bump

Landing hill upgrade pushed to next year after bid soars

Work at the ski jumps in Lake Placid is ongoing, with the taller 120-meter jump stripped of its ramp decking, as seen last Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — The ongoing state-funded upgrades to the Olympic Jumping Complex have hit a speed bump.

The Olympic Regional Development Authority received just one response to a request for proposals to regrade the landing hills at the 90- and 120-meter ski jumps, in order for them to meet current competition standards. The bid they received was $12 million — more than double the $5 million the authority had expected the project to cost. ORDA told the Enterprise four months ago that the total estimated cost of the ski jump upgrades would be around $3 million.

“It wasn’t the price we were looking at,” ORDA CEO Michael Pratt said of the bid.

He said regrading in that area turned out to be more complex than previously anticipated.

The ORDA board voted last Wednesday to put off re-soliciting bids for the remaining site work until next year’s construction season.

“In reality, we’re going to have to bite off bits and pieces to have a successful project,” Pratt told the board last week. He said he believes the authority should break the project into three bid packages when another request for proposals is released. “It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to push this forward through the board.”

Despite the change of plans, the ski jumps will still be operational by autumn, the original deadline for the first part of the project, according to Pratt.

“We’re going to do what we need to do to operate,” he said.

The new frost rail systems will still be installed this year, according to ORDA Communications Director Jon Lundin. A new eight-person gondola will replace the old chairlift and a zip line will be installed as well as a glass elevator this year. Only the regrading of the landing hills will be postponed.

The work is being funded by an $80 million state cash infusion into ORDA approved as part of the latest state budget, as well as $60 million from the year before. ORDA officials hope to use the money in part to prepare aging facilities in the area to host the 2023 Winter World University Games, or the Winter Universiade, which is expected to draw 2,500 student-athletes and delegates to the region.

Upgrades at the cross-country skiing and biathlon facilities at Mount Van Hoevenburg, including the construction of a new base lodge, are also slated in preparation for the games, as well as upgrades to the Lake Placid Olympic Center and the three state ski areas ORDA runs: Whiteface, Belleayre and Gore.

A two-year, $5 million project to restore the elevator at Whiteface that takes visitors to the summit wrapped up last month. The elevator opened for the season on June 1.

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