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11:18 AM Tue, Oct. 23rd

Grand Canyon tram idea gaining momentum

Almost a century before the controversial Escalade tramway project was introduced, pioneers at Grand Canyon floated the idea of a rim-to-river tram as early as 1919. During the pioneer period, tramways were built to carry people, supplies and ore to and from mining claims in the canyon. (Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection)

Almost a century before the controversial Escalade tramway project was introduced, pioneers at Grand Canyon floated the idea of a rim-to-river tram as early as 1919. During the pioneer period, tramways were built to carry people, supplies and ore to and from mining claims in the canyon. (Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection)

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Escalade Tram Project Master Land Use Plan

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The proposed tramway development (illustration by American Rivers)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The impending closure of a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation could lend momentum to a project being considered by tribal leaders to build a tram at the Grand Canyon to fill the economic void.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports  the tram project was brought up to Navajo Nation lawmakers and tribal members last fall by former Navajo Nation President Albert Hale as a solution to shrinking revenues from nonrenewable energies. And now, with the Navajo Generating Station looking less likely to be open through 2019, Hale's forecast is starting to play out.

The tram's developer predicts the tribe's cut of annual revenues would total between $18.8 million and $62.9 million, based on visitation and visitor spending. These revenues would rival what the generating station brings in annually.