Rail replacement will be costly

To the editor:

You mean, they’re just now getting an idea of what the cost will be? It is only after assessing and surveying the 34-mile stretch that the Department of Environmental Conservation can have any idea how much work will have to go in to constructing this travesty.

I’d like everyone to keep in mind what the rip-up-the-rails proponents assured us when the debate began: Ripping up the rails and replacing them with a multi-use trail will cost NOTHING because of the value of scrap iron derived from the rails! Currently, a gross ton of scrap rail — delivered! — is worth $175*. The rails of New York Central weighed 254 pounds per yard**, giving us 223 tons per mile (counting both tracks) — which comes out, after 34 miles, to be 7,600 tons. Bear in mind that the cost of removal from the remote areas through which this railroad travels will be an additional cost, as will the disposal of rail ties. Let’s just imagine, though, that we can get $175 per ton for these rails. This gives us $1,329,944 altogether.

How much do you think the reconstructed trail is going to cost? Well, one thing to bear in mind is that nothing ever costs less than we imagined at the outset. Proponents of the trail say it will cost $8 million for 34 miles (Lake Placid to Tupper Lake.) Oddly, the trail from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake was once given an $8 million price tag, and it was never built. One wonders how much the price will rise after the work DEC is to begin today. I would wager it’s going to be a lot more than $8 million. In fact, I’d guess it’ll cost a lot more than the rehabilitation of the rails would have cost — but we won’t be able to go back. We’ll have learned a bitter lesson.

Emmett Hoops

Saranac Lake

Sources:

* http://www.877ironmike.com/metal-prices

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_profile

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