GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - After months of work, John Ball Zoo is about to open its newest attraction. The funicular is the first of its kind in Michigan.
The tram-like vehicle moves up and down the steep slope. Zoo Director Andy McIntyre says, "We have heard from visitors that it's hard BEcause we're on a hillside and this helps us meet that challenge." McIntyre says they had hoped to have it done sooner. But, because the funicular is unlike most, it took longer to complete.
"It has taken a little bit of time, " says Dan Keys, the electrician in charge of the project. He says funicular's usually have one car. "This is the first one we have three operating at the same time. That's been the main challenge, getting everything synchronized."
The funicular is not open to the public yet, but WZZM 13'S Sarah Sell and Photographer Mike Powers got to take a test ride. Once you get to the top of the "Forest Realm," you can see views of the city from an observation deck. There's also a new event center for parties and weddings. Families can also enjoy a nature trail and eventually a better view of the bear exhibit.
The funicular takes passengers 114 feet up. It was funded by the Bill and Bea Idema Foundation and will be maintained with money collected from a $3 fee each way.
The zoo hopes to have it open as early as this weekend or early next week. Visitors should check the zoo's website, www.johnballzoosociety.org to see if it's open to the public.