The New York State Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Conservation announced their preferred amendment to the 1996 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan/FEIS (UMP) to allow removal of underutilized railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake in the Adirondack State Park, boosting the chances for construction of 34 miles of the Adirondack Rail Trail. Longtime advocates for the development of the Adirondack Rail Trail both touted and criticized the decision.
The development of a 34-mile four-season trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake will bring substantial economic and environmental improvements to the region. In the winter, the trail will be open to cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers. Cyclists and hikers will have access to the trail throughout the rest of the year.
However, the decision by the NYS DOT and DEC does not recommend amending the UMP to allow for the complete removal of railroad tracks along the entire 119-mile corridor between Lake Placid and Remsen. Instead, the two agencies recommend maintaining and enhancing rail service between Remsen and Big Moose and rehabilitating rail infrastructure between Big Moose and Tupper Lake to restore passenger rail service along the remaining 85 miles of the corridor between Remsen and Tupper Lake.
Prioritizing rail service between Old Forge and Tupper Lake is a disappointment to trail advocates like Parks & Trails New York and Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA).
There is still time, however, to speak up and let the NYS Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation know that the recreational and health benefits of a fully-developed Adirondack Rail Trail between Old Forge and Lake Placid outweigh maintaining rail service along a corridor with declining demand.
Let the NYS DEC and DOT know that you think the amendment to the 1996 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan/FEIS (UMP) should call for:
- immediate removal of all railroad tracks along the 90-mile corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid to allow for the full development of the Adirondack Rail Trail, therefore granting the communities along the corridor the economic, health, and environmental benefits of a world-class scenic recreation trail;
- New York State to clearly establish performance measures and carefully analyze costs and benefits of any proposal for resumption of rail service between Big Moose and Tupper Lake. Usage criteria must be met and a rolling one-year performance bond required for any long-term lease to avoid cancellation.
Written comments will be accepted until July 27, 2015. Submit comments to:
John Schmid, Natural Resources Planner
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also create your own message using ARTA’s online letter writing tool.