Teleférico de Mérida or Mérida Cable Car is situated in Merida in
Venezuela. It takes visitors to the top of Pico Espejo mountain in
the Andes to the elevation of 4880 meters above sea level. Merida
Cable car is the highest and longest such structure in the World.
Merida Cable Car starts at Barinitas Station and follows La Montana,
La Aguada, Loma Reddonda and finally Pico Espejo Station on top of
Pico Espejo mountain. Currently Merida Cable Car is closed and
undergoes renovation project. It is expected that it will reopen in
July of 2014.
The first cable car in Mérida was designed in 1952 by a group of
Venezuelan Mountaineers called The Venezuelan Andean Club during the
government of General Marcos Pérez Jiménez, in order to build a
system that would facilitate the ascent to the Sierra Nevada de
Mérida. The proposal was taken into account and the topographic
survey was carried out in order to develop the project in 1955.
By 1956 the final route was drawn and by the following year the
cargo cable car was already in operation until the La Aguada
station, which would serve as transportation for the materials
necessary for the construction of the stations.
The cable car
was built mostly with French, Swiss and German support. By 1958 it
was built at 50%. The work was completed in March 1960 thanks to the
support of Venezuelan workers and the foreign technical team led by
the French specialist Maurice Comte. The work had a cost at the time
of its construction of 70,000,000 Bolívares that for the time
amounted to about 16 million dollars. Over the years, the Mérida
cable car system has been updated, ensuring it and guaranteeing its
continuity over time.
In December 2008, the Merida Cable Car
was inspected by the Austrian company Doppelmayr, an inspection that
revealed advanced wear on the system's guavas and recommended that
the Government of Venezuela close the Cable Car permanently. The
Cable Car was closed at the beginning of that month for public
safety reasons and the authorities asked the inspection company for
a budget to completely renew the system and estimated time for the
execution of the work.
Cessation of operations 2008-2016
In August 2008, the Swiss expert Hily Manz and a technical committee
of that country conducted a general inspection of the system, in
whose investigation it was determined that the cables carrying the
wagons were about to turn 50, which is to say their life Useful. In
the same way it was discovered that one of the towers of the system
had a fissure.
On the recommendations of this group of
European experts, the Mérida cable car was closed in the same month
to protect user safety.
New Mukumbarí Cable Car As of
2010, the Venezuelan government contracted the services of the
Doppelmayr company to fully modernize the Merida cable system, in
order to solve the problems presented in the guayas and in some of
the system's towers. This modernization process is carried out with
an investment of more than 106 million euros and includes the
installation of new guayas, wagons and safety devices. It was then
decided to build a completely new system.
The first three
seasons (Barinitas, La Montaña and La Aguada), the most important
tourist attraction in the region, should be ready by the end of
August 2012, according to Fleming. From that moment, the regular
testing period will begin, to guarantee all the necessary security
for the enjoyment of the snow in Espejo Peak by the residents
themselves and the visitors from all over the continent.