Railway Preservation News

Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Placid
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Author:  thebigham [ Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article ... 865372.php

Report: Save Rapp Road, Stockade, Adirondack railway
Historic group fears for urban districts, rail line
Staff report Updated 9:03 pm, Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The list of the Preservation League of New York State's most threatened historic resources, Seven to Save.

The non-profit unveiled the list Wednesday at a news conference in Albany.
The Seven to Save Endangered Properties List draws attention to the state's vacant or underused National Historic Landmarks, historic communities prone to flooding, African-American cultural heritage and industrial heritage in danger of disappearing.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad

The train runs through several municipalities in Essex and Franklin counties. For more than a century, this active rail line contributed to the prosperity of the western and central Adirondacks. Passenger and freight service dwindled over the years (with a brief rebirth during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid).

In 1992, a group of rail enthusiasts worked with state support to develop the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.
The New York Central Railroad, Adirondack Division Historic District was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1993. A draft management plan completed by the state in 2015 calls for the removal of 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake. Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates drove the effort to accommodate multi-use recreational activities including walking, biking, snowmobiling and skiing. A coalition of local and regional preservation advocates, rail enthusiasts and municipal leaders formed the Trails and Rails Action Coalition to present alternatives for the corridor.

Author:  dinwitty [ Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

so their trying to remove a historically protected rail line?

Author:  Randy Gustafson [ Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

As one of the authors of the original nomination, the answer is yes. The entire corridor, the buildings, and the TRACK were all on the nomination and it's on the National Register as well as the State. And you're talking about removing it with public funds, which is the exact reason the historic preservation law was enacted to begin with.

The tricky part here is what constitutes 'mitigation' - if you can put up some pictures along the trail to show what track looked like or otherwise try to insist that just because the track was on the nomination - and has been eligible for upgrade grants because of its status in the nomination - it is no longer critical to the historic integrity of the nomination of the corridor and can be removed.

I can also speak from experience in that when the bridge repairs had to be done, NY Historical insisted that the walkway railings be put back to preserve authenticity as they were on the ICC Valuation photos we submitted. They were certainly concerned then that the track and structures were an integral part of the historic nomination, down to details as small as that.

The proper response is incredulity. While Historic Register nomination can't block private demolition of register properties, it was intended to prevent the use of public funds to do so. This remains to the NY State Office of Historic Preservation to explain.

Author:  traingeek8223 [ Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

That said, I've done a semi-thorough reading of the planning documents for this project, including the Supplemental EIS. Based on what I've seen, this is a well-planned project that offers benefits for multiple groups--not just the scenic railroad.
Rail removal does represent an adverse effect to the corridor in question. However, other rail corridors that have been converted to rail-trails have been declared National Register-eligible (or listed). It does come down to mitigation.

I've stated before--this compromise plan is really a good thing for everyone. The rail operation will be extended for 45 miles, basically doubling the length of the currently operating line from Remsen. The railroad can also capitalize on an entirely new revenue source--hauling trail users. Hikers, bikers, skiers and snowmobile users get additional trail mileage. Local businesses get additional year-round patrons.

This has NOT been an aggressive takeover of the rail corridor. The tourist line has had two decades to extend operations northward; they didn't get it done. How much longer should the remaining corridor be effectively abandoned? Twenty years? Thirty? Fifty?

I could not DIS-agree with this statement more, and not just because I am a "Rail Fan".

First and foremost, the removal of an ACTIVE rail line for a recreational trail is without precedent and has terrible ramifications for the future. It opens up a Pandora's box not just for this railroad, but for railroads around the country. What will stop well funded groups from going after every piece of railroad that they view as "better" as a trail? This line in particular, running through the Adirondack Park, has even more uncertainty in regards to restrictions and "Forever Wild". I can easily see the scenario where the under used trial is reclassified as "wilderness" to save the future maintenance burdens of up keep of a trail built on a railroad bed. Per the "option 7" proposal, the trail will be the responsibility of the local municipalities in regards to maintenance and monitoring, where as the railroad is currently the responsibility of DOT. This fact is glossed over by the "Trail Folks".

Secondly, while "45 miles of restored track" sounds good on paper, Tupper Lake is not the ideal end destination of this rail line. I don't want to sound as if I'm bashing Tupper Lake as a town, it really is a nice little village and is not without it's charms, but it is not the Internationally recognized village of Lake Placid. Tupper Lake has less then 1/3 the amount of lodging, restaurants and retail shops to offer the out-of-town visitor who may decide to ride a train from Utica "into the woods". Remember, the train does not rely on "rail fans" for their for their ridership. The vast majority of the people that buy a ticket are "average" people, looking to do something unique and enjoyable for the day or the weekend. Lake Placid is much more attractive to this demographic than Tupper Lake.

Third, and this is a biggie, I often hear that "the railroad has had 20 years to fix the tracks and failed, it's time to move on". I ask you, How is a not-for-profit, volunteer based organization, working on a 30-day revocable lease, expected to restore 118 miles of state-owned railroad on their own? From Day 1 the state was expected to have a hand in rehabilitation, after all they own the track. Up until the turn of the century everything was going smoothly. Every few years the state would make another investment and more track would be restored. The railroad did their part by cleaning brush, opening culverts, inspecting track and operating trains with a dedicated volunteer base. State involvement ended after George Pataki left office as governor and track was only restored between Remsen and Thendara and Saracac Lake and Lake Placid, with washout repair, spot tie replacement and major bridge work in between. To say the railroad has failed is flat out false. The railroad has succeeded by opening up the corridor for all users and carrying 1.5 million people in it's 20 year existence.

Four, and I have said this before, the corridor ALREADY IS A SNOWMOBILE TRAIL! It is also open to cross county skiers and can be hiked in the non-active sections. "Option 7" opens zero new miles of snowmobile trails. It is greed on the part of the New York State Snowmobile Association to push for the rail removal, which is why I am no longer a member. Furthermore, as long as the rails are in place it will remain as a snowmobile trail, once they are removed it opens the possibility of becoming subject to future restrictions or outright banning of operation once people with deep pockets decide that it should be "Wilderness" (some of those "deep pockets" are already involved and pushing for removal of the rail).

Lastly (for now), this is 100% a hostile take over of the corridor. The very people that make up the core of ARTA have personal beefs with the railroad or the rails in general. They have united under this idea to build a "trail", but none of them are actually in it to build a trail. They simply want the railroad to be removed. This is not my opinion. If you do enough research and go back far enough it proves it's self as fact. For instance two of the "core" members of ARTA refuse to support "option 7". One because it does not support his desire to have a road to Beaver River, and the other because he wants a snowmobile super highway all the way to Remsen.

This is not even going into the corridor's designation on the National Register of Historic Places. The idea that bridge work must be done based on historical records and a culvert that literally no one can see can cost nearly $1 million to repair so that it maintains it's historical character, but the rails can be removed and the corridor turned into a trail and it will still somehow maintain it's historical designation just baffles me and should make anyone with any common sense scratch their head.

This proposed "Option 7" really is not a win for anyone. It is a poorly planned, ill conceived attempt at a compromise that got only 7% approval in a public poll. Further more, there is zero money available to build the trail, or rebuild the railroad. The only true compromise is rail with trail, as the original 1996 UMP Option 6 intended but has never been fully implemented at the State level. This plan has of course been applauded by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, but rejected completely by ARTA. Why? Because it's not really about a trail. This is something that does not have to be done over night. The trail building can be started immediately along with select rail restoration (Tupper Lake to Saranac Lake). As time goes on and more funding becomes available, both can be expanded. This is option particularly appeals to me as a level headed tax payer.

Author:  Reading T1 2124 [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

One thing (perhaps its just me) that I'm still not clear about: Is it the plan that is moving ahead or is it a proposal? If a proposal we still have time to attempt to make a sensible compromise, yes I know it isn't in a NIMBY's vocabulary, and do what we can. If this word is law, I can't speak for anybody else, but I'll be bugging them for everything they do until the last rail is pulled. As far as I'm concerned, if it comes down to it, we allow this to happen. When the trail becomes a miserble failure, it becomes the Penn Station of rail corridors, a lasting reminder for us to not let it happen again.

Author:  traingeek8223 [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Based on your description of previous track rehabilitation efforts, the railroad apparently made great progress as long as the state poured cash into the ROW and did the actual track work. When that state funding dried up (16 years ago?), so did the railroad's progress on line rehabilitation.

That scenario alone undermines your assertions that the railroad has opened the corridor for all users. Seems to me that the state opened the corridor, the railroad was just along for the ride.

Once again you are off base here. The line was an overgrown mess in the early 90's after a decade plus of no maintenance. The entire 118 miles were cleared of brush buy volunteer labor. 10 miles of track in both directions out of Thendara were restored with volunteer labor. The railroad was also responsible for hiring of contractors and overseing restoration work on the rest of the track. NYS and DOT were "hands off" through these projects. I will once again ask, if the state owns the tracks, shouldn't they invest in restoration? Do you expect your highways to be maintained and funded by volunteers? How is the railroad expected to raise private funds when they are on a 30 day revocable permit? This was a win-win for both organizations, but you and the members ARTA seem to think that the railroad is sucking taxpayers dry. They in reality should be commended for the work and effort they have put into a STATE OWNED property. Tell me, would you put a new roof on a house that you were renting on a month to month basis?

The personnel agendas are apparent in numerous newspaper articles and lawsuits over the years when you do the research and SHOULD NOT be ignored in this process. If someone does't like you because of your haircut, do you want them making decisions about your job?

Your responses seem like they are out of the ARTA handbook, so I will no longer engage you in debate as it is on the same level as banging my head against the wall. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

Author:  Cameron Wolk [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 6:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

nyc1115_wv wrote:
The proposed Supplemental EIS has been published, but no final Record of Decision yet.

That scenario alone undermines your assertions that the railroad has opened the corridor for all users. Seems to me that the state opened the corridor, the railroad was just along for the ride.

Again, time to pull the plug.

NYC1115, I want you one day maybe this coming summer to sign up as a volunteer for any railroad or railroad museum for that matter and contribute a bit. I want you to understand the hard work and exhaustion these volunteers put in on a daily basis so when you're out and about talking about "pulling the plug" you are aware of what your're actually implying. If you've truly had an appreciation for the rails then you surely must have an appreciation for history, do you not? I don't condone the denial of free speech but if some guys (ARTA) came to my museum and vandalized my locomotives and my property with the INTENT to indefinitely disrupt my operations then you have cheated the law beyond comprehension. I'm not one to insult but I want you to know that is what your very group has done NYC1115. If you still support them for this heinous act of criminal behavior then I've lost faith in a lot of great individuals starting today,


Is this what ARTA stands for?:
http://wamc.org/post/railroad-officials ... d#stream/0

Author:  Cameron Wolk [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

nyc1115_wv wrote:
My responses are based on the 1996 Corridor Management Plan, the Proposed SEIS that was published in February, and extensive experience as an environmental project manager on transportation projects.

Furthermore, I have planned--and executed--many volunteer labor projects, in both a paid and non-paid status (hiking and biking trails, for your information). Based on that experience, I know that a moderately-sized volunteer-based group likely couldn't build & adequately maintain a 119-mile long hiking trail, much less a 119-mile long railroad.

I would suggest you read the planning documents and familiarize yourself with the stipulations of the 1996 Corridor Management Plan. You may then understand why the SEIS has been prepared. BTW, those documents were prepared--and will be approved by--the NYSDOT and the NYSDEC. They were NOT prepared (nor will be approved by) ARTA.

Then in that case if you're supposedly here the most knowledgeable person about such a topic how could you say something so ignorant to such a respected and honored organization than the Adirondack Scenic. Railroads like em or not NYC1115 are a business and they deserve a right to stay here in New York in peace. I'm tired seeing track after track removed because some selfish group of "hipsters" can't seem to adapt to what they already have. Here on RYPN we have a member who as you may know is the head of a certain honorable NY tourist line. Asking you personally how do you think he'd feel if one day a bunch of guys came to his office and suddenly told him he and his crew had to "take a hike"?

As of today that's whats happening right now as I write this comment to you. Just because the Utica guys don't have the resources to do it now doesn't mean the track should be removed; that's a horrific mistake within itself. What if say there's an emergency or natural disaster and the roads are blocked, what happens then need I say more. As of this moment I have to seriously question your credentials as you say a "environmental project manager". These are all scenarios you have to think of as a qualified planner and when crap hits the fan who do you think will be responsible? I'm simply not willing to take that risk especially if you're trying to tell me your advising on this project, it's bound to fail 1115. The Lake Placid branch is a childhood memory to many not just the Adirondack bunch but to the entirety of upstate NY. It's the icing of the cake for the 1980 winter Olympics, an American spectacle like no other. To see it go like that in such an despicable manner is just not right especially if you'd want to be part of it. Like I said earlier I've lost all faith in any NY trail group or state planner for that matter to act appropriately on this case,


Author:  Dave [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

If a case is to be made, it needs to be made from a business rather than emotional basis. If they can demonstrate they have recently acquired the resources to restore the line, fine - otherwise, it will be seen as "fair game" for other proposals for use.

Author:  Rob Gardner [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Here is my take on things, not that they are worth much:

1. I too am troubled to see that the line's status on the National Historic Register apparently means absolutely nothing at all. Should this plan come to fruition, it does indeed not bode well for other historic rail corridors that are not fully in service for whatever reason.
2. Why in tarnation are they pushing to remove what is currently an active section of the corridor, huh?
3. ARTA represents a much larger phenomena that we are seeing across the political landscape of this country more and more every year (I really don't want to make a political point, but it is at the core of what is really going on here.), that being, essentially, that they are operating with the attitude of your average 8 year old who has never been taught to respect or play fair with others. They have learned to manipulate and mischaracterize the truth to get what they want. Sorry if that hurts someone's feelings, but I'll stand by this statement all day long and twice on Sunday.

4. So why do these folks insist on taking over this particular rail corridor? Why not develop any of the other already-abandoned, rail beds in the same area? Why? Because they have a distinct personal agenda, or grudge, against the RR. This is really hard to believe, for example, in light of how the RR, over the years since the line has been partially reopened, has worked to make peace offerings to the folks at the Norridgewock in Beaver River by providing them a hi-rail ambulance to make sure they have a quicker way to emergency services than what they have otherwise? These folks had existed with their own make-shift hirail access for years. The ASR was under no obligation to cooperate once it became an active rail line again, yet they did. Apparently no good deed goes unpunished. And so the list goes on.

5. The cry of how the RR would use massive, unacceptable amounts of money to improve the remaining OOS track is a lie as well. They think they can turn the rail and OTM into cash to pay for the construction of the trail. Really? Look at the current price of scrap. I really don't think they would get very far at the current prices. And the ties WILL cost a LOT of $$ to dispose of properly, unless they have another trick up their sleeve to be held to some different standard than the RR or its contractors have been held in getting rid of the old ties that have been replaced over the years. Trail conversion would also take a substantial infusion of public money to complete.

6. Has any credible study been done that honestly justifies the construction of this trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid? Is this trail suddenly going to bring in massive crowds of new visitors that are not yet already visiting the region? Yes, you may see a few more snack shops and bicycle shops open, but I highly doubt it will match the boost to the economy that an expanded ASRR will bring; and far more measurable results than the construction of the trail. When are the pro-rail people going to rally the necessary resources to debunk the pro-trail myths that continue to sustain their current momentum?


Rob Gardner

Author:  Cameron Wolk [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

nyc1115_wv wrote:
Mr. Gardner:

1996 Corridor Management Plan: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forest ... cidump.pdf

2016 Proposed SEIS, with new preferred alternative:
http://www.apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2015/11/S ... 02-15b.pdf

Mr. Wolk:

1. I would ask that you refrain from insults. If you can't respectfully debate a topic, perhaps you should refrain from posting on RYPN.

3. The remainder of your post is based on emotion and personal feelings; I will therefore not respond.

4. No one stated that I'm the most knowledgeable person on RYPN regarding Section 106, NEPA, this project, or anything else. Far from it! This is a preservation-related community--I would assume that many members have extensive education & experience in these matters.

5. Read the documents!

Once again I will re-affirm my stance with the Adirondack company. In railroad preservation there are times NYC where emotion is needed and times were it's indeed inappropriate. For this occasion it's perfectly within boundaries to display emotion even on a business perspective. Keep in mind some of these "volunteers" have full paying jobs at the railroad and that any service reduction could potentially diminish any worthwhile needed cash. You constantly are blinded by the big picture of it all and fail to see through the cracks. The Lake Placid branch could be used not as a worthless trail that no one will use but as an successful revenue passenger railroad. Imagine having the ADIX being able to operate full length service not just as an attraction but as an actual commuter venture. It's yes risky but with the community support I'm seeing it is well worth the try. New York State for a long time has failed to understand the positive economics railroads can provide if properly run and maintained. That's why we need to preserve operations such as the CMRR in Kingston so in the future we're prepared to take the opportunity. Going back I still simply don't understand your reasoning for wanting a trail. If your're a true environmentalist you'd know by fact that trails can actually lead to increased pollution not just by garbage but by the physical appearance of people being there. I'd be interested in knowing what projects you've worked on in the past as you seem to take great pride in your work. My suggestion, volunteer at the railroad and come back to me in 3 months. I assure you NYC that you'll regret the position you seem to adore,


Author:  PMC [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

nyc1115_wv wrote:

Based on your description of previous track rehabilitation efforts, the railroad apparently made great progress as long as the state poured cash into the ROW and did the actual track work. When that state funding dried up (16 years ago?), so did the railroad's progress on line rehabilitation.

That scenario alone undermines your assertions that the railroad has opened the corridor for all users. Seems to me that the state opened the corridor, the railroad was just along for the ride.

Again, time to pull the plug.

Here you have great scorn for public funds used for tourist railroad operations (which you apparently believe must be financed through farebox recovery alone, thus your reference to the state actually financing the railroad), yet you ignore that a trail system must COMPLETELY be funded with public funds, that there is ABSOLUTELY no way to recover any funds from snowmobiles on that trail (other than state snowmobile fess, not farebox, user-financed recovery for that particular trail), bikes (no licenses), pedestrians (no licenses) etc. I see this bias as emblematic of anti-railroad bias in general, that highways, trails, etc are treated as a public good financed with tax dollars, while tourist railroads, much less Amtrak, must be completely financed through user payment farebox recovery or they are deemed useless.

I think you are on the wrong board.

Author:  traingeek8223 [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Pulled from Facebook: Hands down the BEST summary of the situation that currently exists in regards to the Remsen-Lake Placid Corridor. It is written by Keith Gorgas, a local Saranac Lake resident who is not affiliated with the railroad and is NOT a "Rail Fan", just a concerned citizen who "gets it".

"This won't be a quick read. Too long to submit to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, who would just censure it anyway... ... If you're following the controversy that has enveloped the northern Adirondacks involving the planned destruction of the Historic Adirondack Railroad, you probably know most of this stuff. If you're uninformed, but curious of the details, I've tried to hit the main points of what's wrong with the current proposal, recently approved by our non -elected, non-representative government known in common circles as the APA (Adirondack Park Agency)

Why Alternative 7 is a Lose/Lose for all New Yorkers:

Back in 1996, the Adirondack Park Agency(APA), along with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) concluded a Unit Management Plan for the Remsen to Lake Placid Rail Corridor, called Alternative 6. 28 State Employees from those 3 agencies, along with 27 members of the local communities worked together to come up with a workable solution that balanced the needs and desires of snowmobilers, hikers, skiers, environmentalists, biologists, economists, historians, tourism specialists, and local business and political leaders. This plan took input from all parties and hammered out a path for the future. Alt 6 called for the rehabilitation of the entire railroad line. It also called for the State to develop a network of trails, utilizing the Right of Way (ROW) where possible, and seeking alternatives where wetlands and other obstacles would make a side by side impractical. Snowmobilers and XC skiers have use of the ROW through the winter months.

The plan was met with almost universal enthusiasm, and money was raised by grants and donations to renovate the railroad stations still existing along the tracks. Volunteers donated incalculable hours clearing the ROW, working on the stations, and preparing for the return of the railroad. State and Federal money was spent repairing the infrastructure; trestles, bridges, culverts, and ties. The line was opened from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake, and from Utica to Thendara. Seeing the progress, then Governor Pataki allocated millions of more dollars to further the project along, and expand the usable part of the line from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake. For whatever reason, this money was diverted to other pressing local projects.

There always have been factions who wanted the rails removed. A group of pseudo environmentalists, of whom Dick Beamish is a leading spokesman, are driven by a goal of creating a Bob Marshall Wilderness in the western Adirondacks, nearly devoid of human presence, saw the RR as an impediment to their goals. Additionally, some of the snowmobile enthusiasts, led by Jim McCulley, feel the tracks deprive them of several weeks of the snowmobile season.

NY State seemed to drop the ball at the end of the Pataki administration. No further effort was put into continuing the rehabilitation of the tracks. The non-profit Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR) struggled to get started and ran at a deficit for a number of years. Then, nationwide, rail travel, which had been in decline since the end of World War Two, began to catch back on. Since 1996, passenger train use has increased 78%, and the trend points toward continued growth, not just in urban and suburban areas, but in rural regions, too. Ridership on the ASR began to grow. The railroad became self-sufficient for operational expenses, and has been able to service its’ debts.
With the State showing no interest in developing the rails or the trails, two entities began working towards the situation we have now. Next Stop Tupper Lake and Trails with Rails Action Committee (TRAC) , working hand in hand with DEC region 5 guidelines and personnel, began developing a trail route that follows the ROW where possible, and re-routes around impediments. The ROW is 100 ft wide for its entire length. A train requires, at most, 16 ft of that ROW. Part of what makes this railroad so scenic is that it passes through wet lands and lake shores on causeways and bridges, and the APA’s Alt 6 allowed for no expansion of the railbed in such places.

On the other side of the coin, the Bob Marshall Wilderness devotes joined forces with the snowmobile leaders, and with helping of multi-millionaire Lee Keet, formed the Adirondack Rail Trail Advocates (ARTA). Their common denominator is the wish for the removal of the railroad. ARTA members circulated petitions for a rail trail. Many who signed on those petitions had no clue that they were calling for the removal of the railroad. ARTA hired a consulting agency, Camoin Associates, to produce a report favoring a recreational trail in place of the railroad. The report dismissed the accepted Alt 6 out of hand, without ever analyzing the cost and return on investment for a restored rail and recreational trail. ARTA also invested in a lengthy discrediting of TRAC’s proposal for an intertwined recreational trail.

Without disagreeing with the enormous confluence of numbers found in the Camoin Report, I think it would be fair to say that the way those numbers are grouped together and presented obfuscates the true comparative facts. ARTA was able to get the ear of Governor Cuomo, who instructed the DEC to accept their proposal. A series of public hearings and public comments, held to portray an open search for consensus , was really a complete sham; a hoax perpetrated on the public to appear even handed. Public comment was overwhelmingly in favor of restoring the tracks and building a compatible recreational trail. The DEC claimed that public comment was nearly equal, 15,000 for and 15,000 against the rails. To come up with that, they had to discard 35,000 signed post cards calling for Rails with Trails. In truth public comment was 3:1 in favor of keeping the rails.
In adopting Alt 7, calling for the destruction of the Historic railroad from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake, and the creation of a paved, two tiered recreational trail in its place, the State chose to grossly confound the costs and potential returns.

The Camoin report gave a base price, based on national averages, for building a rough trail, and for upgrading the existing tracks. The costs were close to the same; about 10,000 more per mile for the trail, but the rehab cost for the tracks included getting rid of the ties, which is a huge expense, and that cost was not included in the trail price. A ball park figure of over $210,000 per mile is given, and it is stated that both options are close in price. The DEC makes only a passing note of additional costs in its proposal. Reading deeper into the Camoin report, we find that to build a trail as presented by the DEC, with an impervious surface suitable for strollers, street bikes, skates, and wheel chairs, along with the cost of removing the rails and ties, the price shoots way up to around $550,000 per mile.

What all this translates to is that it would cost between 7 and 8 million dollars to rehab the rails to Tupper Lake, to the quality that they could safely handle a train travelling 60 mph. To remove those rails, and build a paved trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake will cost about $18.7 million. Huge difference, but then there is more. If the rails are removed, since the rails are on the National Register of Historic Places, another $8 million already spent on their restoration will have to be returned to the Federal government. That brings the cost up to $26.7 million, but there’s still more.

Nothing in ARTA’s plans addresses the need to safely convey trail users across busy roads in and around Saranac Lake. The options are limited. They would involve new, on demand, traffic lights, bridges, or tunnels. Given the level of the water table heading out towards Ray Brook, it would seem that a tunnel would be out of the question. A bridge that would conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would need ramps on both ends almost the length of a football field. This would add substantially to the cost of the project. 3 new traffic lights would substantially change the flow of traffic in and out of town. When asked about this, the DEC responded that they hadn’t yet given it any thought.

Clearly, it will be far more expensive to remove the tracks and build this trail than it would be to renovate the rails and build a harmonious network of trails around it.
Then we come to the potential benefits that could be reaped from either project. Obviously, anything that’s done will afford some benefits to the economy. A world class trail will draw many, particularly athletes, at least to the Lake Placid- Saranac Lake portion of the trail. Only a fool would argue that a renovated rail line connecting Lake Placid or Saranac Lake with AMTRAK in Utica wouldn’t be a boom to some local businesses. Predicting future use of either is at best an imperfect science. Obviously some local businesses would profit during the construction of either. There’s nothing to indicate that local businesses would actually be favored in the bidding process for the construction. New York laws favor larger contractors with union workers for these kinds of projects.

Looking at two studies done, the Camoin Associates study commissioned by ARTA and used by the DEC, and the Stone Report, commissioned by the railroad for their planning purposes, several conclusions can be drawn. The Camoin report, accepted and repeated by the DEC, projects that as many as 21 jobs will be added to the region because of the trail. In small towns, with average income well below the norm for the Northeast, that is significant. What the Camoin report didn’t take into account, however, is that about 25 jobs created by the railroad and RailExplorers, USA will be lost. Yes, you read that correctly. The DEC’s preferred option is to spend $26 million dollars, and be left with a net LOSS of 4 jobs. Is this the kind of financial insanity that the Cuomo administration wishes to be remembered for?
Going on to the Stone report, which incidentally formed it’s opinions back in 2012 , using lower ridership numbers and preceding the advent of RailExplorers, this report projects over 300 full time jobs added to the local economy when the railroad is rehabilitated and connects the northern end with AMTRAK in Utica. If that same $26 million were invested in the railroad, the long term economic benefits would be much better with the rail than with the trail.

What no one has yet contemplated is the synergistic cost/return for Alt 6, the rehabilitated rails and accompanying trails. It doesn’t take an overly imaginative mind to realize that a completed railroad could bring bikers, hikers, canoeists, and other adventurers into the remote scenic parts of the Park, with a low carbon footprint and minimal disturbance to flora and fauna. A family or group could strike out by bike from Lake Placid, and return via the train. Europeans and Oriental tourists, quite accustomed to rail travel would love to arrive in Tupper Lake via the train, rent a bike, explore, spend the night, and then continue on to Lake Placid or Saranac Lake. I believe there are presently 4 bypass areas along the route, but with a 100 ft wide ROW, ample room remains for additional sidings to be constructed in safe areas. That would allow the co-existence of tourist trains, dinner trains, theme trains, as well as Rail Explorers, to operate in harmony with scheduled round trip transportation.
The restored railroad, as envisioned by Alt 6, would provide emergency extraction for injured bikers and snowmobilers, a means to transport materials for construction and maintenance of the trails and shelters, and sanitary supplies. Looked at as a whole, Option 6 remains the very best option; in fact, the only sensible option for bringing economic renewal to the northern Adirondacks.

Another glaring problem with ARTA’s Alt 7 is the total disregard for Historic Preservation, as called for by the State Land Management Plan. ARTA hired a lawyer from the preservation board in an attempt to circumvent the preservation guidelines, presuming to replace the Historic rails with occasional historic markers. Alt 7 truly makes mockery of the whole concept of Historic Preservation. One of the cornerstone principles of Historic Preservation is that the BEST use of a historic asset is its’ intended use. When questioned by the APA as to whether or not it had followed the prescribed guide lines in regard to the rails being listed on both the State and the National List of Historic Places, the DEC gave the impression that it had. In truth, they had only asked Historic Preservation what the guidelines are, and were informed of them. The fact that the State Historic Preservation people have put the railroad at the top of the list of 7 sites in need of saving this year should be ample proof that the DEC betrayed the public’s trust on this issue. By itself, the DEC’s attempt to run roughshod over the concerns of so many New Yorkers should be enough to firmly put the brakes on this project and bring it back to the table and start from scratch. The voices of all concerned should be given appropriate weight.

The obvious conclusion, for Governor Andrew “Pay to Play “ Cuomo, the DOT, the DEC, and the APA is to go back to the already agreed upon Alt 6, invest the money and effort to bring it to fruition, and let the people of New York State enjoy the fruits of it. A combined restored and upgraded railroad, linking the Northern Adirondacks with AMTRAK , a tourist train through some of the most beautiful unspoiled wilderness in the world, along with a system of interconnected trails for snowmobiling, skiing, hiking, and biking will not only draw tourists from around the globe, but will also provide incredible recreational opportunities for local residents. Hotels, Inns, restaurants, shops, bike rentals, boat rentals, guides, and gas stations will all profit greatly from this venture. It will create hundreds of sustainable jobs. It will strengthen the local tax base. It will have a positive influence on education, athletics, and the arts. It’s a win/win for all New Yorkers."


Author:  dinwitty [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

the fact the report saying they decided to scrap the rail line to Lake Placid had me very suspect on the decision making, someone rich tossing money around playing some dirty politics causing this. It didnt sound right to me and the above shows the picture who how and why.

Author:  Rob [ Mon Mar 07, 2016 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Not in response nyc1115_wv but as a general question:
By reading various timetables and maps, it appears the mileage of rails to be removed is just under 34 miles (18.04 miles from Tupper Lake to Lake Clear Jct. and 15.93 miles from Lake Clear to Lake Placid), say 33.5 for rounding errors. Since a mile is 5,280 lineal feet and the proposed "trail" is to be 8-10 feet in width, say 8 feet again for rounding, one would calculate that for each mile of "trail", 42,240 square feet of paved surface would be placed, almost an acre (43,560 square feet to an acre). By calculation, the proposal would be to pave 32.48 acres of land surface. I find it hard to believe that anyone connected with any "environmental" group would condone paving more than 32 acres of natural preserve. Isn't one reason why two methods of accessing the area the fact that the railroad runs through "wetlands and other sensitive natural areas"? Now, of course, one could argue that the construction of the railroad over 100 years ago disturbed such resources and they'd be correct. But 100 years ago the current environmental laws were not in place plus the railroad, by construction, is not a paved (impervious) surface but rather pervious (stone/cinder ballast) and allows the stormwater to infiltrate naturally through the ballast.

Being in the engineering profession, terms such as "infiltration", NPDES, stormwater management, erosion & sediment pollution control, etc. are all too familiar to myself and my clients. I have to wonder how the NY DEP will sign off on such a project since the implementation of the last phase of NPDES rules regarding earth disturbance of more than 1 acre? Perhaps the prospect of environmental damage might be a topic of further discussion, considering the "green" benefits of such a "trail"?" To put it another way, what would be the outcry from the "greenies" if a Walmart shopping center was constructed in the middle of the wetlands east of Tupper Lake? And yes, such a center would require 32 acres, perhaps less.

Perhaps this discussion is outside the realm of RYPN but it is something that organizations may be facing when they contemplate construction activities on their property, particularly increasing impervious coverage (buildings, walkways, parking facilities).

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