Cuomo Announces Approval Of Adirondack Rail-Trail Plan

As George the cranky steam roller from the Thomas the Tank Engine series says “Tear them up and turn them into roads” but in this case trails. I’ll be honest, I agree with this plan. I work in the rail industry, however I enjoy the outdoors. The original plan was to remove the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid. Now the rails will only be removed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake a distance of 35 miles rather than about sixty or so.

I believe that if the rails were to stay and the entire line be restored to active service it would boom until the nostalgia wore off. Who knows maybe I am wrong? I do believe a rail trail will draw more visitors than the railroad. Right now in America the “Rail Trail” boom is booming and they continue to grow in popularity. I guess only time will tell if this was the right decision.

Below is the story by Phil Brown  of the http://www.adirondackalmanack.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.

ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”

The trail would be used by bicyclists, hikers, and others most of the year and by snowmobilers in the winter.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said the trail will be finished within three years, at a cost of $8 million. The line south of Tupper Lake will be rehabilitated within the same period, at a cost of $15 million.

“By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” Cuomo said.

One argument for removing the tracks was that the ASR train that runs between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid does little for the local economy. ARTA and many local officials contend that a recreational trail will attract more tourists.

If the tracks are removed, ASR will have to shut down the Lake Placid train. Also, Rail Explorers USA, a rail-bike operation that started last year in Saranac Lake, will have to relocate.

ASR will still be able to run trains out of Old Forge and eventually extend its excursions all the way to Tupper Lake. The Old Forge train is seen as more successful than the Lake Plaid train.

However, it’s not certain ASR will continue to be the rail operator in the corridor. The state plans to solicit bids for a rail operator.

The entire state-owned rail corridor extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid and is managed by the state Department of Transportation. The updated management plan for the corridor was drafted by DOT and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the construction and maintenance of the recreational trail.

DEC officials said Tuesday that track removal could begin as early as December or, if not then, in the spring. ASR and Rail Explorers can continue to operate on the tracks through November.

Supporters of the railroad have argued, among other things, that removing the tracks would violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. They also point out that the corridor and the tracks are on the state and national registers of historic places.

In February, after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the rail-trail plan, ASR started a campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal fight. As of late March, it said it had raised about $40,000.

Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates ASR, said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that the railroad recently filed a lawsuit against DEC and the APA. “We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure,” he said.

Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage also criticized the decision. “We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement, as we feel that the railroad advocates made a strong case for the preservation of the entire 119-mile rail corridor for its economic, social, and cultural value,” Engelhart said. “In addition to destroying a significant section of this National Register-listed historic resource, this decision will shut down a successful local business, Adirondack Rail Explorers, and eliminate the northern operations of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a popular attraction for area visitors with thousands of riders every year.”

In addition to building a rail trail and fixing up old tracks, the state intends to:

  • Build snowmobile trails near the corridor to connect Tupper Lake and Old Forge and improve snowmobile connections between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of a hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail from Beaver River to Horseshoe Lake.
  • Establish railway stops for visitors and outdoor recreationists.
  • Consult with the State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the impacts of removing the rails.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad "Railroader's Special" arrives the station at Big Moose, NY on September 24th 2015.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad arrives the station at Big Moose, NY, image © Joe Geronimo.
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2015: #TBT

I cannot help reflecting on the year 2015 as it has been pretty awesome with only a few bumps along the way. The first quarter was brutally cold and snowy here in New York. However things thawed a bit in April as our team “Liar, Liar, Feet on Fire” placed 3rd overall at the ever popular Seneca 7 relay race in Geneva. In June I purchased an ultra light Hornbeck “New Tricks 12” canoe and spent time camping with my sons.

Our family enjoyed summer vacation in Lake George and Lake Placid where Michael and I hiked our first high peak together “Whiteface Mountain”. Julie and I spent 5 days in Charleston South Carolina taking in the food , history and culture. Friend Jerry Albertie and I kayaked 31 miles of the Delaware River over two days. I played witness to the return of Nickel Plate Road #765 steam engine as it roared crossed the Southern Tier on its journey from Buffalo to Binghamton and other points. My boys and I continued our annual “Guys Getaway” to Vermont in August and it was on this trip that I would photograph my first moose in the wild. I also won a canoe in a raffle. In late September I returned to the Adirondacks for a guided canoe camping trip in the recently acquired “Essex Chain of Lakes” afterwards continuing onto Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine where I would photograph several more moose in the wild.

Over the Columbus Day weekend our family spent time in Old Forge, NY canoeing and hiking under a canopy of fall color. The Thanksgiving holiday would be spent with family on Long Island and Christmas here in our home was wonderful.

Over the course of 2015 I was blessed with the ability to run 1,290 miles, burning over 200,000 calories. My last race of 2015 was on December 13th a 5K here in Binghamton where I would have my best showing of the year. Finally today December 31st after finishing my last workout for the year I would just break 200 miles for the month.

Looking back at 2015 I am very lucky to have such wonderful family and friends. I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2016.

Cheers!

Trials & Tribulations

I have never raced in a cycling event before and thought that it might be something I want to give a shot in 2014 during the Chris Thater Memorial (http://www.gobroomecounty.com/bcstopdwi/thater). Recently the Tioga Velo Club (http://tiogavelo.com) had taken the time to come to one of our monthly meetings for the Broome County Triathlon Club (http://broomecountytriathlonclub.com) and make a presentation. Unfortunately I was feeling wussy and did not go. In my defense I do get up at 0230 for work.. Well anyway myself and several other BCTC members decided to go to one of the TVC time trial events this evening. It was a twelve mile event and I paced 35:09 with an average speed of 20.8 MPH. Not bad but definitely room for improvement. But most importantly I was out cycling in great weather with some great friends.

Keep pedaling!

Joe