Aerial tramway comes to Manhattan

An aerial tramway is nearing completion in New York City, linking Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. The French firm POMA is responsible for the installation.

Each car’s cradle runs on an extra-wide track (the suspension cables are four metres apart), ensuring that the cabins remain exceptionally stable, regardless of the weather conditions, allowing higher speeds during the crossing and on station entry or exit.

To meet safety requirements and deliver the best possible service, the two cars operate independently, each being hauled by a separate system of engines and cables. The 960-metre aerial tramway connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan in just three minutes. Each car has room for 110 passengers and the system can sustain a flow of 1,500 riders an hour in both directions.

POMA says the job has been exceptionally challenging, calling on the full range of its project management and coordination skills to deal with several major constraints, in particular a limited schedule and strict regulations. Furthermore the firm had to allow for existing infrastructure (two stations and the proximity of the Queensboro Bridge). Nor was there any question of work on the project disturbing the flow of traffic on the roads below, used every day by thousands of city dwellers.

The first cable was fitted on 5 October 2010, with the first running tests starting the next day. By 8 October a car was already travelling at 8 metres per second, its final design speed. In the course of the next few days the second car will be installed, followed by a series of tests leading up to final certification of the facility by the Department of Labour.

The permit authorising the tramway to open to the general public is expected to be issued at the beginning of November. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), the owner of aerial tramway, should be able to organise an official opening in the coming weeks.

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