Rails, trails, electricity and public safety

To the editor:

The latest concern that Mayor Randall expressed concerning the rails is such hogwash! The 115KV power lines were installed for the 1980 Olympics, and the rails were there. The need to wait a day to repair the lines during the storm was a safety issue for the repair crews and not an access requirement. This whole thing just smacks of convenience and not mandate. The decision to delay the repair of the electical lines was to protect the electrical workers. This concern for safety trumped public convenience.

If there is such a huge issue concerning access, why doesn’t the electric company replace and upgrade the line with buried infrastructure? This could be accomplished while we all wait for the judge to get around to making a decision. There would no longer be an issue with downed trees or the impact that the power lines have on the “wilderness experience” along the right of way. Any “damage” done due to digging will grow back; Mother Nature is good at that.

This brings me to my next point: Once again it appears the Department of Environmental Conservation and perhaps the Adirondack Park Agency are less concerned about public safety than they are about dead trees returning their carbon to the land. Why would they care? They won’t hire sufficient rangers to adequately provide public safety for the hiking trails already in existence, nor will they interpret their rules to provide for the safety of the residents of the Park. How many more must die? These agencies seems to be more concerned about spending their budgets on keeping a wilderness experience, and in some cases lack of access, versus providing for public safety, whether that be hiring required people or allowing for adequate cell coverage for emergencies along every highway in the Park. Also, given the land-use rules about vehicle access along the proposed trail, the utility company would still not have vehicular access to the power line, so the concern about the rails being the issue is a canard. Why don’t these state agencies use similar decision criteria as National Grid when it comes to protecting the public?

The power lines serving Lake Placid aren’t the only place within the National Grid area of operation that parallels rail lines. If this particular challenge to access was such a large issue, then National Grid would own the equipment required to move along the rails. This is known as high-rail equipment and is readily available.

By the way, just when will the judge make a decision? The last news published concerning this was that the decision would be made in June. Just what is going on that we aren’t being made aware of?

James Pierson

Saranac Lake


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