Railway Preservation News

Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Placid
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Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Tue May 17, 2016 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

I hate to disappoint you.

But "mitigation" does, indeed, involve what options and procedures are to be followed when "preservation" of a site or structure listed on the National Register is impossible or unfeasible.

The National Register does NOT, contrary to popular perception, convey with a listing any guarantee against removal or demolition, or for that matter of replacement in kind. "Mitigation" has quite often taken the form of extensive documentation in the Historical Architectural & Engineering Record at the Library of Congress in lieu of preservation.

I am in no way passing judgement on whether this is acceptable or applicable in this particular instance, but I *will* suggest that the application of the protection of the National Register to the preservation of a rail corridor is a mission to which the NR is ill-suited, and not one for which the NR process was really designed. (Your mileage may vary.) One could, in fact, say much the same thing about the National Park Service and Steamtown, the East Broad Top, the Grand Canyon Railway, etc.--and, indeed, many have, even in this forum.

Author:  thebigham [ Tue May 17, 2016 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Adirondack Railway Preservation Society Press Release

Re: Railway Preservation Society Continues Fight to Save the Railroad in Court
Contact: Bethan Maher, Executive Director, (315) 724-0700

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society (ARPS), operator on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad commenced a proceeding in New York Supreme Court April 11th, to challenge the Amendment to the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan (UMP) recently approved by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Upon submitting the legal challenge, the ARPS was advised by the DEC and Attorney General that no decision had been made, despite the signed document which appeared on the DEC website. The DEC and Governor had both recently stated that New York State was going to "rethink" the most recent Amendment. After the Railroad met with the DEC on May 17th, the Agency later sent out a press release announcing Alternative 7 will be implemented.

The Amendment reverses a plan that has been in place since 1996, and which was the result of years of study. The 1996 UMP called for retaining and restoring the railroad for the entire length of the corridor from Remsen to Lake Placid. Since 1996, the Adirondack Railroad has been working closely with the New York Department of Transportation to restore the track throughout the corridor. The Amendment calls for the removal of the railroad infrastructure from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid. The Adirondack Railroad is currently operating a successful excursion train between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, which is a key driver for many businesses in Saranac Lake that strongly support the continuation of the railroad service to Saranac Lake. The Amendment would destroy this already successful route, and foreclose the future restoration of passenger service from Utica to Lake Placid.

Bill Branson, President of the Adirondack Railroad, noted that not only has the Railroad been successful in renovating miles of track since the institution of the 1996 UMP, it has turned its own finances around. Branson stated: "We have turned what was a struggling enterprise into one that is financially sound and provides exciting rail excursions to tens of thousands of riders. We now own the necessary rail equipment, and have the financial stability and volunteer base to succeed. We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure."

In addition to the DEC, the lawsuit names the Adirondack Park Agency. Before the DEC could adopt the amended UMP, the Adirondack Park Agency had to find that the Amendment was in conformance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Branson stated that the State Land Master Plan defines the Travel Corridor as a railroad, and that it is common sense that removing the railroad from the corridor cannot be consistent with a Master Plan that calls the Unit a Travel Corridor with a railroad. Branson noted: "The proposed recreational trail will have nothing to do with 'travel' and the APA's conformance finding is thus wrong. In fact, one of the APA Commissioners specifically stated this when the APA voted on the proposal." It is important to note, that although neither cited this particular case in their resignation, APA Chair, Lani Ulrich recently submitted her resignation. Dick Booth, another APA Commissioner, also submitted his resignation yesterday, citing overreaching by the Governor's office and conformance issues with the State Land Master Plan on a number of recent decisions.

Branson further noted that the campaign to remove the rails has been funded by a few politically-influential individuals, who have been supportive of the Governor and who are not sufficiently concerned with the economic future of the region and the preservation of a historic resource.

The State has been unclear about how the proposed recreational trail will be built after the rails are removed. Branson noted that converting the railroad bed, which in many places has steep banks, into a recreational trail for the public will be an extremely expensive project. "You cannot simply remove the rails and then start bicycling on the old rail bed. Large amounts of material will have to moved into very remote areas at great expense." Branson questioned whether the State would complete the proposed recreational trail after the rails are removed. "This Amendment is less about the proposed recreational trail than it is about accommodating a few opponents of the railroad who wish to see it extinguished. I expect that what will be left after the rails are removed will be a lengthy snowmobile race track, but not the type of quiet trail associated with the Adirondack wilderness experience."

Branson noted that the DEC appeared to ignore public comments at hearings held on the proposal, and relied on flawed economic data. "We presented data showing that the completion of the project to renovate all of the track from Remsen to Lake Placid would bring tens of millions of dollars into the region. Yet DEC did not even want to accept our data for review, and wants instead to spend State money to destroy infrastructure. DEC officials were not even in the hearing room when many of members of the public spoke out on the flaws in the proposal."

The entire railroad corridor has been listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites, but the State now plans to destroy this historic resource. State and federal law provides that the destruction of such historic sites must be avoided or mitigated. Here, the destruction of the railroad, purportedly in order to build a recreational trail, could easily be avoided.

Branson stated that there are many recreational trails already in the region, and more could be developed without destroying the historic railroad. In fact, the 1996 UMP specifically called for trails in association with the railroad, not in place of the railroad. Branson noted that many hikers, mountain bikers, canoeists and kayakers use the railroad to access trails in remote part of the Adirondacks.

Branson noted that the Adirondack Railroad's goal is to restore passenger service from Utica, which is served by Amtrak, all the way to Lake Placid. "Other than a few flights a week from Boston into Saranac Lake, there is no public transit to get to Lake Placid, the heart of the Adirondack tourism industry. We cannot understand why the State would foreclose the possibility of rail travel to Lake Placid."

Branson noted that many local governments have adopted resolutions in favor of keeping the railroad. "We do not feel DEC listened to the public, or conducted a fair review of the economic data, before proposing to forever destroy the only railroad into the Adirondacks. We hope the Courts will reverse this decision, and save this resource as the Adirondack Park Act and the New York Parks Recreation Historic Preservation Law require."

Accordingly, to move ahead the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society is planning a "Rally for the Rails" on June 3rd from 4 - 5pm, in Utica at the New York State Office Building to show local support for rail retention and restoration. The Society is also actively raising money, via their website adirondackrr.com/savetherailroad for their legal defense fund.

The case has been filed in Franklin County, in which much of the railroad that is proposed to be removed is located. The Adirondack Railroad is represented by the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC.

Author:  Randy Gustafson [ Wed May 18, 2016 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Remember that the National Historic Preservation act is federal but enforced by establishing State Historic Preservation Offices; which are funded by the state. That's one of the key facts here when you have a Governor 'suggesting' that it can be mitigated when he also holds some degree of budgetary and administrative control for the very agency responsible for the review. But like Federal Highways, the SHPO is still subject to Federal law here.

Second is that the Act was basically enacted to prevent local and state governments from wantonly bulldozing down significant designated properties using taxpayer money in the name of 'urban redevelopment'. This is a classic case rolled to the modern era; the corridor is owned by NYDOT and the State is using taxpayer money to tear it apart. The intent of historic preservation was exactly this, particularly for publicly-owned property. While its a 'strong suggestion' on privately-owned properties like EBT, it's a different case entirely here. Trails have become much the mantra as urban redevelopment in the 60's, it's eerily similar in many respects.

While the arguments are passionate, there is also no 'necessity' of action here. Whether or not the track removal is 'necessary' will be a key argument particularly when the corridor is already used for snowmobile use, when there is actually snow. There are alternatives; hotly contested, and there is by no means unanimity of the decision, and an executive decision does not change that fact. The entire nature of the compromise is an admission of no necessity involved, just a political compromise between factions.

Third will be the definition of what is acceptable mitigation in this case. The 'normal' process of mitigation for an historic structure is to look at a building that for the most part can be beyond hope of restoration or repair; it is unsafe, etc;, and in many cases privately owned with no eligible funding for restoration. Documenting the structure that is simply beyond repair under Sec.106 is not uncommon. Here you have a situation where a) the track is already in use, just not in FRA 1 condition the full length and can be practically remedied by trackwork that has already been accomplished elsewhere on the corridor and is even proposed as practical for parts now out of FRA 1; 2) retention of the corridor itself is still being done as part of the alternative 3) Mitigation by removal strikes at the very heart of the property begin with (it's not a corridor, its a RAILROAD and track isn't there for decoration) 4) Funding is available and eligible by state means and has even been proposed for the remainder of the track.

It would be interesting if historic mitigation on a railroad property had to follow some of the same mitigation rules that NEPA forces on wetlands; i.e. if you're a private developer taking out a wetland the standard mitigation is to find other property to replace it on a 2:1 acreage basis. Not that you can't fill it in, but you're responsible to find replacement wetland and flood it if necessary. Under those rules you'd have to replace torn-out historic railroad track 2:1 for what you took out; reconstruct the O&W on what is now trails property anyone?

This very well could turn into a landmark case on historic preservation policy; wish it could have been resolved otherwise, but it's likely to hit the courts, and because of that, everybody that's ever had ANYTHING put on the National Register, from steamboats to boilers to presidential houses had better pay attention. Don't just vent on the New York governor; alert all your contacts in historic preservation activities that this one is going on.

Author:  crij [ Thu May 19, 2016 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Just released in Railway Track & Structures Magazine: http://www.rtands.com/index.php/passenger/intercity/gov-cuomo-approves-plan-to-partially-preserve-adirondack-rail-line.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Gov. Cuomo approves plan to partially preserve Adirondack rail line

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a $23-million plan that will essentially split a 119-mile travel corridor into a scenic railway south of Tupper Lake and a multi-use trail north of Tupper Lake.

The plan, which affects the corridor from Remsen to Lake Placid, was signed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Transportation and, according to the state, will maximize the use and economic benefits of the corridor. The state will also immediately invest in the implementation of the plan, including $15 million to upgrade the rail line between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and $8 million to build a multi-use trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. The rail line will be rehabilitated and the trail will be built within the next three years.

"From Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, the Adirondacks is home to unparalleled natural beauty and today we are building on what makes this region so special," Gov. Cuomo said. "By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. I am proud the state is moving forward on this important project and this is yet another example of our commitment to ensuring the Adirondacks remain a first-class tourism destination for generations to come."

The funds committed to implement the final plan will enable the scenic railroad to expand continuous operations for 45 miles on fully-restored rails. Additionally, the plan calls for a longer-term lease for the railroad operator. The railway will continue operations on the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment through November 2016. The removal of the tracks and the development of the 34-mile community connector trail will begin after November 2016.

The plan also calls for linking Lake Lila to the active rail corridor and establishing railway stops in adjacent communities for visitors and recreationists.

"This proposal will strengthen the existing excursion railroad from Utica and extend its operation to Tupper Lake—a distance of more than 100 miles," said New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll. "At the same time, we will work to mitigate impacts and to preserve the character of communities along the rail corridor.

The preferred alternative of the 1996 Unit Management Plan, which governs the use of the 119-mile Remsen-Lake to Placid Travel Corridor, called for rail use to be developed along the entire length of the corridor and encouraged the development of a parallel trail where feasible. However, in recent years many individuals, recreation groups and municipalities along the corridor, expressed an interest in re-examining the Unit Management Plan and evaluating the development of a long-distance multi-use recreation trail. At the same time, the attempt to develop a trail parallel to the rail between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake was determined to be infeasible, as it would necessitate excessive disturbance of sensitive wetlands.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which operates along the corridor, vowed to fight the decision based on its elimination of currently operational track and that the plan "would only allow us to bring families, senior citizens and people with physical challenges to Tupper Lake and tell them to walk the last 34 miles to visit the Olympic sites in Lake Placid."

Author:  Rob Gardner [ Thu May 19, 2016 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

This has got to be the absolute epitome of foolishness and government waste to rip out track that has recently had an infusion of public funds to get the segment from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid back in service. And what will ASR really be able to market? They certainly won't be able to get passengers to Lake Placid, especially if another Olympic event is held there. All in the name of making the lying trail crowd happy...

Author:  Melanie [ Fri May 20, 2016 8:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Some excerpts from the NYS DEC's Unit Management Plan Amendment/Final Supplemental EIS are posted below.
Of note, the "trails are free" theme is prevalent; no specific mention of a defined total budget for the trail (if one still believes that a trail will be built or maintained after the initial tearing out of the rails).
Note that not much thought is given to the costs for "trail upkeep, maintenance, and patrol" - a vague mention that "the DEC will reach out to local governments and non-profit recreational groups to help maintain the trail and enforce regulations".

As noted by others, anyone involved with any property listed on the National Register of Historic Places should stand up and take notice - and spread the word (alarm).

All in all, a plethora of red flags in this document; what follows are just a few short excerpts.

(2) Recreational Trail Uses: Segment 2 – Tupper Lake to Lake Placid
On the portion of the Corridor that would be unoccupied by rail service, costs would be incurred for construction to improve that portion for trail use and installation of deck planking and safety rails on existing railroad bridges.
The State has estimated, based on experience on other rail\trails that the cost of construction of a recreational trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid (approximately 34 miles) is about $200,000 a mile, or $6.7 million. This is an order of magnitude estimate and is consistent with other estimates from the Town of North Elba, Regional Economic Development Councils, the Rails to Trails Conservancy, and the New York Parks and Trails Association. Assumptions about the width of the trail and the surface would affect final costs.
Additional costs related to the development of a recreational trail include the potential payback to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of up to $2.3 million in costs incurred in the development of the rail between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, and trail planning between Lake Placid and Ray Brook. Whether a reimbursement is ultimately required, should the final decision be made to build a recreational trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, would be the focus of follow-up discussions between the State and FHWA.
Also, it is estimated that the costs of the removal of rail infrastructure would exceed the potential salvage value of these materials by $1.1 million; thus the estimated total cost of the development and construction of approximately 34 mile recreational trail is estimated at $7.8-$10.1 million, depending on payback. To the extent that salvage materials are retained by the State for use in upgrading Segment 1, it would increase the cost of removal but reduce the track rehabilitation cost and may mitigate FHWA payback, if any. Any serviceable rail, joint bars, tie plates and ties removed from Segment 2 would be provided to the selected rail developer for continued maintenance of the track in Segment 1. Any excess fit material may be transferred for use in other publicly-owned rail corridors at DOT’s sole discretion.
Should any portion of the trail segment be paved, there would be an additional cost for such a trail surface. Any paving would have to account for snowmobile use and any paved sections would need to have enough room in the Corridor for snowmobile users to ride on unpaved areas safely and with no unreasonable environmental impact.
Because it is not anticipated that fees would be charged for recreational trail uses of the Corridor, the State would receive no direct revenues from the implementation of the trail component of the Corridor management plan.

...While this preferred alternative calls for the removal of rail infrastructure between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, the Corridor itself would remain intact. All the stations in public ownership would remain and/or be interpreted as deemed appropriate through consultation with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office would be undertaken to consider measures to mitigate adverse impacts on the integrity and character of the Corridor Segment 2 to the fullest extent practicable. The work proposed for Segment 1 would rehabilitate track structures in order to restore train service to Tupper Lake from its current terminus at Big Moose. This would preserve the integrity and character of the historic property.
...Although it is acknowledged that there would be some demand for rail use between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid for more extensive tourist excursions, rail removal on that segment is being pursued because of the significant increase in demand, especially from the communities along this segment of the Corridor, for environmentally compatible recreational trail uses. With the tracks removed, Segment 2 would be in optimum condition for trail uses. The elimination of rail activity and the removal of the rail infrastructure would allow Segment 2 to be managed for more intensive recreational trail use than would be possible under the preferred alternative from the original 1996 UMP/FEIS (Alternative 6).
...As part of this alternative, it is recommended that the “Travel Corridor” classification be retained along the entire 119-mile length of the Corridor to assure that the integrity of the Corridor be maintained for future travel needs and current recreational uses. There is a need to preserve the possibility of reactivating it for rail purposes should the need arise at some time in the future. There is continued support for allowing the Corridor to be used as an essential link in a long distance snowmobile trail system. The existing classification would also preserve the potential for creating a long-distance bicycle trail along the Corridor.
Since it would lead to rail development on Segment 1 and recreation trail development on Segment 2, Alternative 7 would go a long way toward realizing the Corridor’s potential. It is also important to recognize that, while the devotion of Segment 2 to trail uses would eliminate rail uses on that segment, the occupancy of a rail in Segment 1 by trains would not necessarily exclude trail connections and “connecting trail” uses in Segment 1.

Rails WITH Trail – Combination Parallel Trail with Off-Corridor Bypasses, as Needed (T.R.A.C. proposal)
A) TRAC’s design does not provide the type of trail being sought by the public. The State has determined, based on years of substantial public input, that the Corridor is underutilized and the public would prefer a wide, relatively flat, family- oriented trail (i.e., baby strollers and kid’s bicycles), and a more snowmobile- friendly trail in lieu of the train tracks in the Tri-Lakes Region. This comment on the Amendment sums up the predominant public sentiment in the Tri-Lakes Region:
“There are many hundreds of miles of foot trails in the [A]dirondacks, but one would be hard pressed to find a trail where you could push a stroller or a baby jogger, run a [wheelchair], or take my 83 year old mother for a walk. We have it all here in the Adirondacks except for a rail trail: a well graded, relatively level, safe, scenic pathway free of vehicle traffic that can be enjoyed via multiple forms of human powered conveyance.”
B) TRAC’s off-Corridor spur trails that currently exist on the ground are already being used by the public and do not currently offer a new way to travel the direction of the Corridor without having to get back onto the Corridor at regular intervals. Once the public is dropped back onto the Corridor ROW, according to TRAC’s plan, the same limitations exist that prohibit the strict parallel trail as noted in section one above. TRAC’s proposed trail sections ‘along the Corridor’ do so in many unsuitable segments. Their own maps bear out the extensive wetlands they propose to run a trail through. The large wetland complex just west of Lake Colby is a perfect example of a location that would need cost-prohibitive cantilevering and fencing, or result in unacceptable environmental impacts from the filling in of wetlands, triggering potential federal and State wetlands permitting regulations

COMMENT: Couldn’t a recreational trail be built that would be a loop, instead of a continuous trail as envisioned in the preferred alternative?
RESPONSE: Recreational advocates want a flat, long distance trail capable of accommodating wheel chairs and baby strollers. Construction of a loop trail would almost certainly require using adjacent forest preserve properties with difficult topography not suitable for the required level of development. A long distance recreational trail that links communities is what the public in this portion of the Corridor have asked for, and similar trail systems in communities around New York and the country have proven very popular.

COMMENT: What about the rail bikes operated by Rail Explorers USA, from Saranac Lake to Lake Clear?
RESPONSE: The initial popularity of railbikes is a welcome sign to how popular a multiple use recreational trail is likely to be. While this entrepreneurial use of the Corridor is to be commended, it is still not the best public use of the Corridor. According to the Rail Explorers USA website, their railbikes depart Saranac Lake four times a day, travel one way at a time, have limited seating (12 bikes) per tour, must keep pace with each other, and charge a fee to riders. A multiple use recreational trail, on the other hand, is open year-round, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. The public can travel it in both directions and in unlimited numbers. Most importantly, it is free to everyone. Individuals or groups are welcome to use it at their own pace, whether they are walking, running, biking, rollerblading, skiing, sitting in a wheelchair, walking with a walker or crutches, pushing a baby stroller, riding on a snowmobile, or taking leashed-pets. They can carry a fishing rod and cast in Lake Colby, and not have to worry about impacting anyone else’s enjoyment of the trail. The Corridor south of Tupper Lake, which is to have rails improved, would be an excellent place for the fun and exciting use of railbikes, which add to recreational diversity in the Corridor without impeding public use of the recreational trail north of Tupper Lake.
Additionally, multiple other local businesses stand to benefit with implementation of the trail. For example, there should be an increase in demand for ski and bicycle rentals.

Author:  Randy Gustafson [ Fri May 20, 2016 10:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

One of the things I've run into that this readership needs to be aware of is that a 'trail is not a trail is not a trail' and you need to be very much aware of what kind of a trail is being discussed, as it dramatically impacts cost and feasibility, as well as the 'feasibility' of rails with trails (RWT) and how this can be rejected as an alternative despite a general public consensus that is/was a reasonable compromise here.

Rail with trail proponents typically envision a gravel-surface 4-5' level trail; no railings, no pavement, etc., and that can often parallel a railroad right-of-way without tremendous design difficulty or expense; walking trail or mountain bikes, in trailese that is often called a "recreational trail". But what you're seeing is the classic "'multiuse trail" which in trailese means an Federal Highways AASHTO standard 10' trail + 1' shoulders for a basic total surface width of 12' minimum, and pretty much dead-flat. Now also add in barrier (guard) rails on trails (which can be darn expensive as well as a maintenance problem) with those design standards if there is a drop-off on one side like beside a stream, and if you are leaving track in place for RWT, a hefty argument about whether or not more barriers have to be in there as well. The end result for a 'multiuse trail' or RWT can be darned expensive, particularly if the public assumption is a paved surface and the environmental restriction is for a non-impervious surface (open asphalt or packed limestone). Many are rated for speed, sight distance, curves and grades - yeah, it's just like a highway.

Now, given the fact that you're adding shoulders and a 10' minimum width surface, (that's also wider than the original tie length was) so you're either digging down the ROW base to gain width, or widening the roadbed out at the top - which means you may be getting into either excavation or filling, and impacting drainage. Welcome to the same environmental permitting problem that prevented the rail-with-trail issues to begin with. Bottom line is there can be a real incompatibility of full multi-use trail design with the environmental restrictions for waterways and the term 'trail' really does not mean the same thing to all persons. Costs vary wildly. I've seen cost estimates where trail construction was more than to rebuild the track to FRA III on a per-foot basis for a multiuse, paved trail, with barrier railing protecting banks or streams. So pay close attention not just to what it costs to build a trail, but what basic design spec is being referred to and where the money comes from to push that agenda from the top-down. It's all connected, particularly if federal money is involved.

Bluntly, the trail people are just as uneducated about track, as everybody on this board understands the differences between FRA I and FRA III, both are legitimate track standards for passenger, but you can 'spike the punch' by costing to FRA III as a minimum track rehab standard if you want to discredit rail. I just want to make sure that rail folks understand what I consider to be a rather similar issue about trail construction standards. It's just one of the underlying issues manipulating both perception and outcome and creates polarization.

One observation I'll make is that the little 1/2 mile rail-with-trail that was built at Saranac Lake was apparently just done with local money, packed gravel surface, separation barriers only at one end, and done pretty much after the community had just 'had it' with NYDOT and just went ahead and did it themselves for far less expense and headache. It is a 'rail with trail' by any definition in our world but can bear little resemblance to what the state has in mind to do to their standards on the corridor. It's also how Kingston can manage to put a walking trail right beside their trolley line down to Kingston Point - it's not a multiuse trail done to AASHTO standards, it's a 'recreational walking trail'. We may think it all as a 'trail', but it is very much not the same.

Contrary to popular legend, neither AASHTO nor rails-to-trails Conservancy has hard and fast fixed design rules for track/trail barriers - they leave that up to local and expert recommendations, and you'll see that tweaked to fit the agenda at hand. New York in particular apparently doesn't have a state-built/federally-funded rail with trail anywhere because of it's own interpretations of what that means, while other states do.

Depending on the funding source for the grant, and who is interpreting it, the design can pretty well not only crowd out rail-with-trail (as the end trail result can be wider than the railroad ever was) but not even fit on the right-of-way as it is without widening cuts, etc. From what I've read, there's a pretty good disconnect between what was in the Adirondack public showroom window concept for a paved, multiuse trail (push a stroller or a wheelchair on it) and what will meet standards without being tied up in environmental review and permitting for years. Devil is in the details, and often originates in the original grant application language for trail development. The resulting funding leads to standards which can be interpreted far differently, so pay close attention to that. And in fairness, I'm seeing trails design get just as hung up on environmental problems now due to these factors.

Author:  DickHorn [ Mon May 23, 2016 12:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

I looked up the status of the snowmobile group. It is a 501(c)3 organization. How are they getting around the IRS requirement that they can not use any monies for lobbying. They sure as hell have been lobbying the DEC and DOT. If they are using their money, they should be legally restrained and forced to returned it to their funds. Or is it a "Friends group" doing all the dirty work outside the IRS regs. Also, since it is on the state and national historic list, how can it be torn up. The rails and ties are part of the listing. Stupid state doing anything it wants to do. Typical Albany.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Mon May 23, 2016 7:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

DickHorn wrote:
I looked up the status of the snowmobile group. It is a 501(c)3 organization. How are they getting around the IRS requirement that they can not use any monies for lobbying. They sure as hell have been lobbying the DEC and DOT. If they are using their money, they should be legally restrained and forced to returned it to their funds. Or is it a "Friends group" doing all the dirty work outside the IRS regs. Also, since it is on the state and national historic list, how can it be torn up.

Do you have any evidence that this "lobbying" involves the expenditure of monies in the "traditional," "greasing-of-palms" fashion?

Many, many groups "lobby" simply by getting members to write their legislative representatives, show up at meetings, testify before committees, and otherwise present their cases and advance their causes. This is completely legal, and the entire point of such groups. And infringing on the rights of such groups would be a gross violation of the First Amendment.

Now, mind you, there are many folks out there that insist that the rights of of the First Amendment do not extend to the political activism of groups or collectives of people, but usually they only mean corporations that make a profit, while ignoring labor unions, "non-profits" such as the Sierra Club, etc. Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the "free-speech rights" of such collectives and corporations.

As for your later comment, I repeat as often as I have to: The presence of a resource or asset on the National Register of Historic Places DOES NOT convey permanent and perpetual protection. It only mandates a process that has to be undertaken to obtain permission to demolish, and to document said structure before demolition. And for the most part, it's similar with state registers as well. If you believe this process is being ignored or circumvented, go after the appropriate parties.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Just something that turned up--steam on the Adirondack!

This was in November of 2000, after the end of the fire season. Power was borrowed Susquehanna 142:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKS5u_0 ... e=youtu.be

Author:  alzubal [ Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Road this with my son and and a friend from Florida was a great trip. My son spent most of the trip in the baggage car. To bad we can't have more trips like this one.
Thanks for the memories

Author:  jefalcsik [ Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Many, many groups "lobby" simply by getting members to write their legislative representatives, show up at meetings, testify before committees, and otherwise present their cases and advance their causes. This is completely legal, and the entire point of such groups. And infringing on the rights of such groups would be a gross violation of the First Amendment.

The lobbying described by the IRS Code is not easy to put your finger on. However, the reason a 501(c)4 nonprofit classification exists is to permit lobbying activity. The 501(c)3 is limited and the lobbying activity is determined by how much an organization spends on lobbying activity. While this is very subjective, the ARTA group was directly engaged in lobbying activity by asking town councils to pass resolution to support the trail project. From the IRS Code is the following statement on lobbying:

"In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

In another circumstance, ARTA directors have been found to encourage and instruct voters on who and how to vote for, to benefit their stated advocacy. Flat out telling a citizen who to vote for on a public forum they own is not permitted. The IRS Code makes this statement with respect to restrictions on political activity:

"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Tweets on Twitter, Facebook postings and web site links and statements are considered by the IRS the same as written publications from the tax exempt organization.

One other IRS rule governing nonprofit organizations that might cause trouble for ARTA is the following: A 501(c)3...must not operate for the benefit of private interests such as those of its founder, the founder’s family, its shareholders or persons controlled by such interests;...Lee Keet comes to mind on this one, but that is my opinion.


Author:  JimBoylan [ Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Scrap Prices

From http://webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com/news/us/story/0002/20160706/KCN0ZK1GC_2
the price for industry benchmark No. 1 heavy melt scrap metal was about $500 a ton in 2008 before sliding to about $330 at the beginning of 2015. It then fell to about $170 by the end of the year
No. 1 heavy is rail, etc.

Author:  Randy Gustafson [ Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

True, and with the drivers of scrap pricing typically overseas (India, China, Brazil, etc.) for the spot market, a lot of previous estimates of what it will cost for trail construction may now be short of funds assuming rail takeup would pay for at least part of it.

The trail construction project for the lower end of CMRR (downtown toward the trolley museum) was basically a null transaction in the trail bid award - the worn 90, 100 and 105 was worth enough to pay for the cost of takeup and not much if any more in the current market. Our analysis of the upper end (Ashokan) came to the same conclusion. One of the significant costs is for crosstie disposal - basically they have to be landfilled and it's not uncommon for it to be $7 per tie now. That's a New York State only number due to their creosote disposal regulations.

Bottom line, redo your trail estimates if there's any 'contribution' from the scrap rail, and unless you've got a nice population of relay ties in there that can be transferred to another railroad, tie disposal is going to wipe out your rail value. You need to pay a great deal of attention to WHEN those estimates were made.

The record price we got for one of our clients back at the end of 2006 was $660 a ton for a batch of scrap 85# rail, and that was even a dealer, not a mill, price. SELL!!! It's been all downhill from there.

Author:  Rob Gardner [ Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Randy, I'd love it if I could get scrap ties off the property and in a licensed landfill for $7.00 a tie.


Rob Gardner

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