The Mon Incline will be closed for nearly 12 weeks starting Aug. 31 for major reconstruction.
According to Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie, the $3.5 million project includes: replacing all of the ties and track on the hillside, replacing some of the cable wheels that guide the major hauling cable and the safety cable, installing a new hauling cable and some renovations to the cars.
“We’ve done some minor repairs and upgrades in the past, but this one is pretty lengthy and very needed,” Ritchie said.
On an average weekday, 2,000 people ride the incline, but on weekends that number jumps to an average of 4,000-5,000 per day.
“We have commuters who take the incline faithfully every single day to and from work, and then on weekends, it’s one of the top tourist destinations in the city,” Ritchie said.
It’s those tourists and losing the money they bring that concerns Laura Guralnick of the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation. Citing PAT’s own figures that ridership on the incline increased by 26 percent over the recent Memorial Day weekend compared to a year ago, she projected that there would be 22,000 riders during the coming Labor Day weekend. She said shutting down the incline prior to the holiday would have “a terrible impact” on business.
“We recognize the construction has to happen, but if it could wait till the Tuesday after Labor Day, it would make all the difference to our business owners, and it would make all the difference to all of the visitors who come to Mt. Washington,” Guralnick said.
But Ritchie says PAT already delayed the project because Mt. Washington businesses told them that it would be “too much of a hardship” if the incline closed during the summer.
“We can’t keep pushing it back and back into fall and winter because it becomes a safety issue,” Ritchie said. “The incline is a steel bridge-like structure that climbs up and down that hillside, and the later we go into the year, the worse the conditions are going to be for the people working there.”
Guralnick called on the transit agency to insure that shuttle service provides the same frequency and reliability as the incline does because it’s “crucial to both residents and visitors."
PAT will run shuttle buses between the upper and lower stations during the shutdown for commuters, according to Ritchie, “but the incline will be shut be shut down for visitors who want to enjoy that trip.”
He says it should be back in operation in time for Light Up Night on Nov. 20.