Washout fix on track

A loader and porta-john are carted out on train wheels so they can used by workers repairing a washout along the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor at Hoel Pond. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE CLEAR — A massive washout under the railroad tracks of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor is in the process of being repaired, as contractors begin to make their way to the remote location.

The state Department of Transportation, which manages the state-owned, 112-mile corridor, told the Enterprise earlier this year that it had been made aware of the washout on May 6. The hole, which was approximately 20 feet high by 75 feet wide, was made this spring by a stream that drains Summit Pond in the St. Regis Canoe Area into Hoel Pond.

The tracks, and some ties, were left dangling over the washout, but DOT contractors are now beginning the work of reaching the remote location, which is on the border of the motor-free canoe area. From Station Road in Lake Clear, workers for the WJ Riegel Rail Solutions LLC said the washout is about 3 miles west.

“Right now, we’re putting gauge rods in to hold the gauge so we can get our track equipment out here,” David Page of Riegel Rail Solutions said. “We’re just making the tracks so they can hold our equipment, so we can go up there and repair the washout. It’s pretty gnarly.

“Reale (Construction), which is the general contractor on the project, they are going to put in a drainage system. So we’re going to take out the old, existing track. And they’re going to put in a drainage underneath it, and then we’re going to put the track back on top of it.”

The tracks of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor are suspended in mid-air after a spring-time washout under the rail bed at Hoel Pond. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Page said this isn’t the biggest project the company has handled, but it’s not exactly a small project, either.

Trains have not been on the northern end of the tracks since 2016, when the Adirondack Scenic Railroad ran its last seasonal tourist train between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Since then, the DOT and state Department of Environmental Conservation have been working on a plan that would rehabilitate the tracks from Big Moose to Tupper Lake for passenger service, while removing the tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid and replacing them with a multi-use trail. That plan is expected to be released to the public sometime this year.

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