Worth the wait
To the editor:
Our family has operated a hotel on the railroad corridor at Beaver River (21 miles northeast of Old Forge) for five generations. My father worked for this railroad, and I worked for the Adirondack Railroad Co. rebuilding for and through the 1980 Winter Olympics. From a business standpoint, this rebuild seems like the most colossal waste of tax dollars EVER.
This rail line has failed three times, and while the specialty trains have enjoyed some success from Utica to Thendara (Old Forge), it is not self-supporting, and while some trains such as the Utica to Holland Patent holiday trains have continued to be popular, the Utica to Old Forge schedule has declined almost annually. Over $8 million was spent on infrastructure to fill the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s dream of getting to the “run-around” at Big Moose Station; that schedule has fallen to zero, with eight to 10 trains exclusively during foliage.
How can longer rides mean more success? They will be expensive per person*, they have not addressed the ancillary transportation necessary** to move people to and from the train, and they tout stops that will leave people in the wilderness with no choice but to wait for the return train, which may be hours. There is a plan for a 300-foot platform to serve as the Beaver River station, but there are no sanitary facilities and over half a mile to public land from its proposed location.
This only begins to outline the problems.
We have worked for over 20 years to create a rail trail which would run from the Old Forge area to the Tri-Lakes, connecting these important tourist destinations year round. The business model for this is so much more sustainable and sensible than a rail operation could ever be. Businesses served by the corridor trunk tend to be smaller and more suited to a smaller, steadier flow of customers, as has been the case with the lucrative snowmobile business and would be with hikers and bikers, especially the new e-bike craze, allowing for this important corridor to be used and provide benefits almost 24/7/365.
Worth looking into?
Scott S. Thompson
* Round trip from Utica to Big Moose has been $48 each (less than half the distance).
** No preparation by business or municipality has been possible as no operational plan has been available.