Adirondack Rail Trail at critical juncture

After four years of effort, the Adirondack Rail Trail is approaching the station. Public hearings on the proposed conversion of an underutilized rail corridor to multi-use trail through the scenic heart of the Adirondacks were held in October and November, and public comments on the project are being accepted until December 15. Submitting comments is an important avenue for demonstrating widespread support for the recreational trail option. Parks & Trails New York has been a vocal supporter of the Adirondack Rail Trail, as have many local residents, businesses and municipal officials.rail.map

An underutilized rail corridor runs 90 miles through the Adirondack Park between Old Forge and Lake Placid. The state has proposed that the 34-mile section at the northern end, between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, be converted to a multi-use trail for bicycling, jogging, walking, birding, etc. and for greatly improved snowmobiling in winter. This was Phase One of a proposal put forward by Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, an umbrella organization for local trail supporters.

However, for the remaining 56 miles between Tupper Lake and Old Forge, the state has recommended that the corridor be kept open for rail development, with no possibility for a multi-use trail. This decision seems at odds with the low demand that exists for rail service on this stretch.

South of Old Forge, all sides agree that the existing tourist train from Utica makes is worth continued public support.

As stated in another recent letter of support from PTNY addressed to the Director of the Freight and Passenger Bureau at the NYS Department of Transportation, conversion of the corridor to trail represents its best use. More from the letter:

Creation of a multi-use trail on the RLPTC would offer a unique opportunity not only for residents and visitors to safely travel off-road between Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake, but also for persons of all ages and abilities to fully experience the ever-changing beauty of the unique Adirondack landscape while gaining valuable year-round recreation and physical activity benefits. Because of its long history, the high degree of integrity that it retains, and the variety of places that it connects, this corridor is also the perfect means for telling the story of the activities and events that shaped this area of the Adirondacks.

Public comments

The task for Adirondack Rail Trail supporters is to demonstrate widespread public support for the recreational trail running the entire 90-mile stretch from Old Forge to Lake Placid. Supporters of the rail trail showed up in force at public hearings held across the Adirondacks in October and November. However, opponents of the trail were also on hand, and they will surely make their points in the media and through the written comment process. That’s why we’re asking you to let your voice be heard one last time.

Please consider submitting written comments by email to nystravelcorridor@dot.ny.gov or by regular mail to NYS Travel Corridor, Freight and Passenger Rail Bureau, 50 Wolf Rd., POD 5-4, Albany NY 12232.

Let NYSDOT know that you, your family and friends will benefit from having a safe, multi-use trail through the gorgeous heart of the Adirondacks!

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One thought on “Adirondack Rail Trail at critical juncture

  1. Seventy-five miles of the rail corridor is underutilized, including 10 miles from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake which features rail service. Not surprising, demand is low for rail service where it doesn’t exist (Big Moose to Tupper Lake). Fifteen miles of the corridor from Old Forge to Big Moose has a growing rail service in the summer, complete with bike trains, and passes through an extensive trail system. The corridor from the Town of Webb to Tupper Lake passes through three wilderness areas, and rail service is the only potential means of access to those areas for many disabled American veterans and others with self-mobility issues. the corridor is remote, and recreational use is practical for only some. Nothing can be built around that portion of the corridor. Businesses will not spring up there to serve recreational users. Better to connect the communities of Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake and Tupper Lake with a multi-use, multi-season recreational trail separate and apart from the corridor. The best use of the corridor is service to the most people, regardless of physical capability or personal interest.

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