Adirondack Railway Preservation Society’s reaction to state rail/trail decision

The New York State Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Conservation announced today, June 11, 2015, the state’s decision to reopen the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor’s Unit Management Plan with the intention of removing the railroad tracks north of Tupper Lake, running to Lake Placid. The corridor is part of the 141 miles of track on which the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society (doing business as Adirondack Scenic Railroad) operates and is working to preserve. Although the railroad disagrees with the state’s compromise position, the organization looks forward to an expanded operation and bringing train service to Tupper Lake, a town at the precipice of a revitalization and resurgence.

The ARPS has believed from the beginning of the review process that the original decision designated by the 1996 UMP was the correct decision. The selected alternative, option 6, states that the DOT and DEC will “permit rail uses over the entire length of the corridor, encourage compatible recreational trail uses.” The process to decide the use of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor was lengthy, thorough and led to a sensible future plan for the corridor. While the ARPS is disappointed that the various parties will soon be embarking on what will undoubtedly be another lengthy and costly process to potentially remove the tracks north of Tupper Lake, we look forward to working with the pertinent agencies to answer the question as to the best use and development of this wonderful asset south of Tupper Lake.

For the past 21 years, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad has operated a successful and safe railroad which has been an integral part of heritage tourism in New York state. The railroad has served in excess of 1.3 million passengers and grosses over $1,200,000 in annual ticket sales, facts which are reported to several federal and state agencies. As a multimodal corridor (rails with trails), rail use also allows for interface between the train, hikers, bikers and canoeists, making New York state a leader and world-class example in the concept of multimodal travel through a sensitive ecosystem.

The future of the Adirondack region depends on bringing people and business to the area from outside the Park, and we cannot afford to eliminate any infrastructure which serves to attract tourists to the area. The Remsen-Lake Placid corridor is currently managed as a railway in the spring, summer and fall months and as a snowmobile trail in the winter months. The Adirondack Park has thousands of miles of hiking, biking and snowmobile trails, many of which will be accessible via train with a completed rail line. The Adirondack Park has one railroad, a piece of living and functioning utilitarian history, a protected historic landmark, which allows people of all walks of life to experience the beauty and thrill of our unique region.