DEC leader: A detailed Tri-Lakes rail trail plan coming soon

Railroad tracks run beside Tupper Lake’s train station, which the Next Stop Tupper Lake group rebuilt in the 2000s in hopes of receiving train traffic. New York state intends to replace the rails with a multi-use trail from here to Lake Placid and renovate the tracks south of here, connecting to Utica. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

RAY BROOK — A controversial state project to convert an Adirondack railroad into a trail will have detailed plans available for review soon, according to the regional head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC Region 5 Director Bob Stegemann said after Friday’s meeting of the state Adirondack Park Agency that the DEC and state Department of Transportation expect to have their unit management plan on the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor come before the APA in the next several months, but he did not have a firm timeline.

That plan could allow for the removal of rails in the corridor between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, to be replaced by a trail for snowmobiling, cycling, jogging, etc.

The DOT oversees the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor, and in 2016 the DOT and DEC released a unit management plan that would have upgraded the tracks from Remsen to Tupper Lake while replacing the tracks with a multi-use trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

That plan was shot down in court, however, in response to a lawsuit by the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society, which has operated seasonal tourist trains on the line under the Adirondack Scenic Railroad brand.

The state did not appeal the ruling and instead opted to change the definition of a “travel corridor” to more clearly allow removal of the tracks on all or part of the corridor. The APA finalized the definition change in December 2018.

Since 2014, the DEC and DOT have planned to replace 34 miles of rails from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid with a multi-use trail, and to renovate 45 miles of tracks south of Tupper Lake to Big Moose, connecting to Utica.

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