Primary elevators at Carlsbad Caverns open at last

New Mexico

After years of problems and setbacks, the main elevators at Carlsbad Caverns are finally back in service and better than ever.

In just a little over a minute, the new and improved elevators at Carlsbad Caverns National Park can take you up or down 750 feet, but it wasn’t always that easy.

In November 2015, one of the two main elevators had a problem with its motor shaft and was out of service.

KRQE News 13 is told when one goes out, the other goes with it.

“We need both elevators to be operational for rescue, both elevators were out of service since then,” said Doug Neighbor, park superintendent.

To make matters worse, the secondary elevators were also out of service off and on during that time.

“When these were out, and there was no elevator service, the most impacted visitors were those that are mobility impaired, and that’s disheartening,” said Neighbor.

Instead of just fixing it, they went ahead and completely modernized the elevators that were originally installed in 1955, replacing everything but the structural steel that was done in 2008.

The scheduled completion was May 25 of this year, but there were some unforeseen delays.

“The elevator would go down 350 feet and stop, but the elevator’s supposed to go down to 750 feet, and so that took them a week to 10 days to resolve that issue, and then there were some speed issues,” said Neighbor.

Finally, the elevators were able to start operating last month, and Monday, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate.

“Part of the experience, I guess, is being able to walk down the entire thing and know that you can just get up pretty quick,” said Ken Baker, a visitor from California.

“It can be a long walk,” said Brad Herndon, Carlsbad resident. “They’re good, brand new elevators, functioning and they’ll be very efficient for years to come.”

The entire project cost about $4.7 million.

Officials said they plan to modernize the secondary elevators next, including its original steel structure from the 1930s.

They’re still unsure how much that will cost.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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