Following the study of ten different options which were characterized in terms of a large number of criteria, amongst which the safety and reliability (= 24 hour availability during 365 days per year) played key roles, which had been completed in a preliminary form in October 2000, discussions took place with the Conseil General at Gap, and with the Conseil Regional in Marseille.
As aleady reported in the previous Newsletter issue, there is a local interest to develop further the already well developed skiing (and summer vacation) area at Superdevoluy, and - on a longer timescale - a scientific outreach project in connection with the observatory installations.
It appears as if the interests of CNRS/INSU and IRAM on one side, and the interests of the local authorities could best be served by a combination of a telecabin and a `funiculaire' solution. The telecabin would have the capacity to bring a larger number of people up to about 2000m, where skipistes are maintained, and the `funiculaire' would go from there to the observatory at 2550m, and would at least initially only be used for IRAM purposes.
Consequently, a 2 study contract has been signed between INSU and SCETAUROUTE aiming at a more detailed technical study of such a solution but also to look at the operational and maintenance aspects. In parallel the economic aspects will be analyzed. The results should be available by the end of February at latest.
If the results from these studies confirm the feasibility of this solution, the Technical Department attached to the Conseil General in Gap would take over the project leadership, provided that a partnership agreement can be signed between all parties involved, i.e. the CNRS/INSU, the Conseil Regional, and the Conseil General.