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Adirondack railway may contest state trail plan again

Adirondack railway may contest state trail plan again

DEC and DOT plan to remove rails "misguided," railway group says
Adirondack railway may contest state trail plan again
Photographer: Shutterstock

ADIRONDACKS -- The rail company that has operated on the rail tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake may yet challenge a state proposal to replace the 34 miles of track with an off-road recreation trail.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society and the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, in an email sent to supporters last Friday, said they plan to offer public comments on what they call "the midguided effort that seeks to deprive the communities of Saranac Lake and Lake Placid of direct connection to the national rail network."

While the tracks are owned by the state, Adirondack Scenic Railroad operated a summer tourism train between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake for a few years, though the state hasn't granted permission for several years.

The railway society also disputed reports -- including one last week in The Daily Gazette -- that the railway and state have resolved their differences. While a press release about the trail plan from the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation included a supportive quote from Railway Preservation Society President Bill Branson, the railway said that quote only applied to the state's plans to invest in rail improvements on the stretch of line between Remsen and Tupper Lake, not to the plan to take up any tracks.

"There has been no settlement. Any such reference is inaccurate," Branson said in the email to supporters.

The railway, which is based in Utica and runs excursion trains from Utica and Old Forge, challenged the state's previous plan to take up the tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a recreational trail. In 2017, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in its favor and invalidated the plan, leading the state to restart the review process.

"The ASR reserves the option to again pursue legal action," Branson stated.

The draft Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan Amendment and supplemental environmental impact statement are currently going through public review. State officials and many local government officials believe the northern Adirondacks would see more economic benefit from a recreation trail than from the rail line.                                                           

DEC and DOT are holding three public meetings to outline their plans and take public comment. They will be Dec. 3 in Tupper Lake, Dec. 4 in Lake Placid, and Dec. 5 in Old Forge.

The deadline for comments is close of business Friday, Dec. 20. Comments may be provided at any of the public meetings; mailed to John Schmid, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY, 12233-4254; or e-mailed to [email protected].

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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