A panel from the Portland Aerial Tram came loose and fell last year, striking a pedestrian and causing minor injuries. An engineering report, commissioned by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, concluded that maintenance was not a factor in the incident.

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The Portland Aerial Tram car nears the upper station.

The Portland Aerial Tram car nears the upper station.

Cacophony / Wikimedia

Instead, the report released Wednesday found that wind conditions combined with the tram’s decorative design likely caused the panel’s failure last December.

Since the tram opened in 2006, it has completed more than 600,000 trips. This was the first time a panel had fallen, according to PBOT.

Typical tram cabins are designed to be rectangular, the Portland tram cabins are similar — but with decorative paneling wrapped around to give them a curved shape.

The panel that failed in 2018 was held down by wire tethers and carabiners, now seen as too weak to stand up to wind force. The tram operator states the wind speed was as high as 38 miles-per-hour at the time of the failure.

A panel has malfunctioned once before in 2014, but the tether system held it in place at that time.

PBOT said it will install a customized bolt and tether system this summer. In the meantime, crews have already replaced the existing tethers and carabiners on all panels with “enhanced versions.”

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