Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rail Supporters, Trail Advocates Remain Divided

Hope Frenette of ARTAAfter years of public debate and numerous public meetings, the state is nearing a final decision on the future of the rail corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid, but railroad supporters and rail-trail advocates continue to disagree.

On Wednesday night, the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation held a public hearing on its plan to remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and refurbish 45 miles of track between Tupper Lake and Big Moose (a depot northeast of Old Forge).

About 120 people attended the hearing at Tupper Lake’s high school, and 38 spoke. Some favored the state’s plan, seeing it as a reasonable compromise. Rail supporters, however, opposed the removal of tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, while trail advocates opposed the state’s spending millions of dollars to fix up the rail line south of Tupper Lake.

Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which runs tourist trains in the corridor, argued that it makes more sense to fix up the rail line all the way to Lake Placid, which is more popular than Tupper Lake as a tourist destination. “We believe there’s a better way, and we’re going to continue to scrap for that,” he said.

The railway society operates the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which runs tourist trains at both ends of the corridor–between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake and between Utica and Big Moose. Because of damaged track, the railroad has not yet brought its train to Lake Placid this year.

Several of the speakers Wednesday night were from Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, a nonprofit group that wants the state to remove the tracks between Big Moose and Lake Placid and create a 79-mile recreational trail that they contend will attract tens of thousands of visitors each year, including cyclists in warm weather and snowmobilers in winter.

Hope Frenette, a Tupper Lake resident and ARTA board member, said a rail trail will enable visitors to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding Tupper Lake and enable the former logging town to shift to a tourist economy. “Our lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests are what we have to work with,” she said.

Dick Beamish, another ARTA member, urged the state not to refurbish the tracks south of Tupper Lake until it has a chance to evaluate the success of the rail trail and the feasibility of an expanded rail line. He questioned whether tourists will want to ride a train for several hours to reach Tupper Lake.

“This project is shaping up to be an embarrassing boondoggle,” said Beamish, the founder of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine, which operates Adirondack Almanack.

The state estimates it will cost $11 million to repair the tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and up to $9.8 million to remove the tracks and build a trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

Others who spoke against leaving the tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake included snowmobilers who argued that the rails pose a danger to riders and limit the snowmobiling season (since the snow is not always deep enough to cover the rails). Chris Keniston, a local rider, said if the tracks are removed, snowmobilers would be able to ride between Tupper and Old Forge, a snowmobiling mecca, throughout the winter. “Connecting to Old Forge would be like connecting to Disneyland in the winter,” he said.

But Dominic Jacangelo, executive director of the New York State Snowmobile Association, said he generally supports the state’s proposal, which also includes plans for new snowmobile trails between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

Some rail supporters continued to argue that the trails can be built within or near the rail corridor without removing the tracks–an option that the state has ruled out for environmental and legal reasons.

Amy Catania of Historic Saranac Lake pointed out that the corridor is on the National Register of Historic Places. Removing the tracks, she said, would destroy part of the region’s heritage.

Last night’s hearing was supposed to be the last, but at the insistence of rail supporters, DEC and DOT agreed to hold a second hearing on July 20 in Utica, where the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is based. That hearing will start at 4 pm in the State Office Building at 207 Genesee Street. In addition, the state will receive written comments through July 27. Comments can be emailed to adirondackpark@dec.ny.gov or mailed to: John Schmid, Natural Resources Planner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4254.

DEC expects to present a final proposal to the Adirondack Park Agency in October. The APA must review the proposal to ensure it complies with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

Photo by Phil Brown: Hope Frenette speaks at the public hearing in Tupper Lake.


Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




37 Responses

  1. Jan Hansen says:

    I was at that meeting last night and actually came away from the meeting feeling sorry for the Rail advocates. The trail option makes so much more sense economically.

    My own selfish interest in the trail option was for biking during the non snow months. The snowmobiling in the winter months hadn’t even occurred to me. The snowmobilers are right, they do spend a lot of money in the communities where they buy gas, etc. I’ve seen the lines of sleds at the gas stations and parked at the restaurant in Indian Lake.

    The rail option south of Tupper Lake should be put on hold for now. The state and all parties should look again into the feasibility of something like that turning a decent long term profit for the communities. How much money will it really take to maintain tracks through those areas?

    • Bruce says:

      Jan,

      I’m essentially a rail supporter. However I realize the state’s plan is as close as we’re going to get to having something for everyone, and Tupper Lake stands to be a big winner here.

      As has been discussed many times before, the trick for the local economies is attracting folks from outside the AP during the off season. The locals are barely keeping these economies alive in winter (just look at the Webb Cams put on by the town of Webb) and compare the amount of people winter and summer. Turning the Big Moose-Tupper Lake corridor into another trail won’t help much. Since the Tupper Lake-Saranac-Lake Placid corridor has more year round people, it makes more sense to have a trail there.

      Having a decent train to Tupper will attract outsiders, and trains have the advantage they can run in all weather, even in winter. I believe the fact that the Town of Webb has separate snowmobile permitting requirements for the town-maintained trails helps keep folks away.

      • M.P. Heller says:

        As a business owner in the Town of Webb, that has Trail #5 in the TOW trail system running through my yard, there are plenty of riders on the trails on winter. If there wasn’t, I would close in October and not reopen until May.

        Many of the riders appreciate the grooming and clearing of brush and blowdown that the fee structure supports. Inlet also has a similar permitting system and the vast majority of the riders I see here in Eagle Bay have both of those stickers in addition to the requirements of NYS.

        Looking at cams in Old Forge doesn’t really tell the ridership story. During daylight hours when the imaging of live cams is most easily viewable, riders are doing just that, riding. They are not in Old Forge mugging for the cams.

        While true that ridership numbers may be down in recent decades compared to the 60’s or 70’s, I feel the modern rider spends more. Sleds eclipse 15 thousand dollars now for new technology 4 stroke models with the options. Put a couple of them on a $5000 trailer and pull it around with a $50,000 truck and you’ve got quite an investment in outdoor power products. Add some insurance, fuel, roomnights, meals, drinks, souvenirs, and accessories to the deal and it’s 100 grand. In this model less rider can have the same or greater economic impact than the larger numbers of yesteryear. It’s a completely different demographic.

        • Bruce says:

          All of what you said is undoubtedly true to some extant, but how much of that significant amount of money you named is actually spent inside the Blue Line by most residents? We have been vacationing in the Fulton Chain every year for the last 10, and in my travels I haven’t exactly noticed a plethora of well stocked sled or car dealers between Woodgate and Tupper Lake along NY28 and 30.

          I’m having trouble grasping the idea that just because someone lives inside the park, that means the bulk of their money for big ticket items is spent there (not including their home, obviously). I happen to know that residents along that corridor south of Long Lake or Blue Mountain Lake do the bulk of their regular shopping in Utica or Rome where they have greater choice and bigger, less expensive stores.

  2. As I watch this debate I am reminded of the urban renewal projects that decimated Public Square in Watertown and downtown Ogdensburg. The proponents argued with certainty that getting rid of the old and replacing it with new would bring prosperity and that the alternative of renovation would be a mistake. It doesn’t take much of a historian to see how that worked out. A half century later both are struggling to recover.

    I confess that I side with the train, both because I am biased against ATVs/snowmobiles in wilderness and because of the loss of history that this represents. I won’t go into arguing the reasons but I do question the wisdom of tearing up the tracks.

    • David Whitbeck says:

      You are probably biased against ATVs/snowmobiles because you don’t ride any & you have NO IDEA of the business snowmobiles bring to the communities along the corridor in the winter months. ATVs aren’t permitted in the Park now & won’t be permitted on the corrdior if/when it becomes a trail in the future. The rail line has had 20 plus years to figure out how to make it wiork & they haven’t suceeded. Time to move on to newer/better ideas.

      • Paul says:

        He didn’t say he was biased against them. He said he was biased against them in Wilderness areas. A person could easily be an avid ATV rider or snowmobiler (or both) and still prefer them not being used in a Wilderness areas (or in a travel corridor that traverses a wilderness area in places like this). There are hundreds of miles on snowmobile trails on Forest Preserve land (about 840 at last count) and thousands if you include private lands (some open for public use). When I did do a lot of snowmobiling I preferred to ride on the lakes where there seemed to be an unlimited amount of space to ride (and ride fast safer than in the woods). No shortage there. I am interested to see if the predicted 140,000 bikers per year actually show up to use this once it is built. Seems like moving from one boondoggle to the next. It’s a lot of money either way.

        • James Falcsik says:

          Railbanking status usually qualifies a potential trail project for federal funding sources. This corridor may not qualify for railbanking because NYS purchased the corridor years before the interim trail use laws were written. This also means ARTA’s claim of future rail service being secure is a fraud because without railbanking, no such protection to the corridor exists. It would never get past environmental regulations to allow reconstruction. Frankly, I think ARTA founders know this and purposely misled the public.

    • Scott says:

      If you are against ATVs and snowmobiles in the backcountry, how can you possibly side with the train??? The loud train noise and the tons of herbicide they spray on the width of the entire railroad corridor is surely worse than a hiking/biking trail that also allows snowmobiles. Even just seeing the railroad tracks is ugly.

      • Paul says:

        Anyone checked on the “trails” deer fly situation? It hugs the water in most places the bugs are clearly in favor of a trail. You can switch from herbicide to insecticide.

        • Hope says:

          A few of my friends were up riding the Essex Chain area the day of the hearing. They report the ride was great, the views were wonderful and the bugs non existent. Just an FYI.

          • Paul says:

            Good to hear. It can be hit and miss. These tracks are closer to the water in most places where the bugs are pretty thick sometimes. We rode the rails one summer on a makeshift rail bike my cousin and I made and it was pretty buggy but not unbearable if you have thick Adirondack skin.

          • Dan says:

            For over ten years I’ve inspected segments of the track between Remsen and Lake Placid and I’ve observed that bugs do exist on the corridor. Lots of them, billions of them! Black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes… They are hungry and really enjoy humans! Skin so soft works ok until it roles off when sweating. To deny that bugs may not be a problem to hikers/bikers on the corridor is as ridiculous as removing the rails and turning the corridor into a trail. Just another FYI.

  3. Paul says:

    None of this really matters much at this point. Once the decision is made these hearings are a formality.

    Phil what are the “plans for new snowmobile trails between Tupper and Big Moose” are part of this proposal?

  4. Lakechamplain says:

    I seriously doubt if anything new has been or will be added in the two public meetings(last night & on the 20th) that hasn’t been said or written before. I think the process has been as thorough as could be expected and many opportunities were given to people and groups on both sides of the issue to express their views. I think that the articles and comments–and there were a ton of them–made on this website added positively to the general debate; I know I certainly read a wide range of opinions here that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen if not for Adirondack Almanac.
    The state came up with a compromise after a thorough vetting of the evidence they gathered and were presented. So let’s get on with building the bike/snowmobile trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid and make this great area an even better place to recreate.

  5. William Valentine says:

    All the impassioned arguments for either the scenic railway or the rail trail totally miss the point. A railroad has always primarily been a means of moving freight. Heavy freight, and while it may not be economical to ship forest products and extracted minerals at this time, future increases in in labor and fuel prices will eventually make the railroad necessary for these industrial pursuits to continue. Since the environmentalist vision of the park is pristine wilderness devoid of industry, they want to get rid of the railroad as soon as possible. They are joined by interesting partners: the truck drivers who see the railroad as future competition, and the ATV and snowmobile interests. As to the arguments that the scenic railway can be profitable, they are wrong. Scenic railroads need two things to succeed, first they need drop dead gorgeous scenery and second they need a steam engine. We in the Adirondacks lack both. The spectacular ranges, except right near Lake Placid cannot be seen from the train. Steam engines draw crowds, but they are very expensive to operate. That’s why the railroads switched to diesels. Our railroad was built in uninteresting territory because it went through rich, easily exploited forests with few grades. The rail trail also will fail to draw crowds for a similar reason. I have skied along the railroad looking for remains of past industrial activity. I have found many sites, but they cannot be found except in winter. So how will a boring flat trail attract many people to the Adirondacks, when we already have thousands of miles of existing trails everywhere.

    I summarize. We need to keep the tracks and roadbed in tact at least as far as Tupper Lake to facilitate future industrial pursuits in the central Adirondacks far into the future. The opponents of the railroad know full well that once the roadbed is gone it will never be rebuilt.

    • roamin with broman says:

      Now a steam engine is needed too! Wow, that price tag keeps going up!

      What possible future industry will require this rail line?

  6. Charlie S says:

    Tourist trains in the Adirondacks! I did the Saratoga to North Creek excursion last summer with my girl and her mom….just to do something different. I’m always looking to do something different so as to keep my mind alive. It was not what I expected. The scenery was not grand like I thought it might be except for when we went by the Hadley Bridge where there was a pretty mountain scene beyond that historical structure. We had the best seats in the house we were on the second level in the dome car.Going north was fine but coming back south the smell of diesel fuel was thick in the car on the second level so I requested seating below and they accommodated us. I do not like inhaling carbon-based vapors.Every time I do I wake up the following morning with hair all over my body,plus it makes me light-headed.The windows were not as clear as I was hoping they would be as I brought my camera along for photo ops though there weren’t many.

    As some of you might be aware girls like to spend their daddy’s money even when daddy’s wallet is thin which mine usually is. I keep telling her it’s a good thing money grows on trees. She pays me no mind. Survivalist me packed some food items to hold us over for this trip. I’m always packing food when I go on trips…nuts,health bars,peanut butter & jelly sandwiches,turkey jerkies,etc. Water too. I like to be prepared. I saw at least one other couple on the train had done the same so I was made to feel like I was not the only one who was living on the cheap that day.

    What I did not expect was the hostesses were there to be sales people,they came up to the tables and offered all passengers breakfast menu’s not long after we departed Saratoga Springs. Soon as I saw the menu I saw my girls face and immediately me bringing food along was open to question. I felt stuck and it was an uncomfortable situation. I did not expect this.They kind of put me on the spot which I do not like.I suppose i’m insecure! I saw by the features on their faces that this same couple as above had felt the same as me upon being approached by the hostess….except they did not order anything. After we departed North Creek on the return trip we were presented with a lunch menu. My girls face again!

    Needless to say I spent more money than I wanted to on this train ride. Been there done that I will never do it again. I would like to add that all of the hostesses were extremely nice young ladies and that part of this excursion was a very good experience for me. They were less sales people than they were kind, praiseworthy,civil people by far.

    Train tours are not for everyone which is not to say I don’t like trains…I do. I’ve traveled across the country by train a number of times. I love taking the train from Rensselaer to NYC and wish I were able to do it more often. When it comes to exploring the Adirondacks footing-it is paramount to all other modes of ambulation in my book. You can never duplicate that experience by any other means. You hear more,see more,smell more,feel more when putting one foot in front of the other in those woods. While I am an admirer of trains I also see where there is a time and place for them and the Adirondacks does not fit in the picture with me. But I see where others would differ on this. We’re all different. I like walking through the ‘out’ door on the way in,the ‘in’ door on the way out.

  7. George L. says:

    There was a time when trains to Tupper Lake went on to Montreal and Ottawa.

    Rebuilding one of these rail lines would give all of central New York direct train access to Canada. And it would give Canadians direct train access to the Adirondacks.

    Re instituting this route would have a great economic and social impact within the Blue Line, far more than using the line for a pure tourist train,

    • roamin with broman says:

      Those trains went away for lack of customers…….very hard to imagine a scenario where the riders would be there to support this idea.

    • AdkDave says:

      George, your sentiment is great and I applaud you for it… Unfortunately the sections of the Adirondack and NY & Ottawa corridors from Lake Clear and Tupper Lake were sold off to private owners shortly after the lines were abandoned. The corridor north from Lake Clear is now a power line and the only snowmobile connector from the northern end of Franklin County.

      • George L. says:

        Hello AdkDave –

        The State could get the corridor back by eminent domain.

        The power line could be redesigned.

        We could accommodate snowmobilers.

        It’s only money. The State has plenty of it.

        With a connection between Tupper Lake and Montreal, the Adks would have an amazing engine for change.

  8. Bellota says:

    I am a recreational bike rider living five months a year in the Adirondacks. I bicycle mainly for exercise. I often go to Quebec province and Burlington to ride my bike because there are off road bike paths that offer safety from motor vehicles. It is two hours by car to the Montreal area and one hour to Burlington plus a ferry ride. One of the extra “payoffs” from these outings is to have a fine meal and do some shopping in interesting stores. This experience can be duplicated in the Adirondacks when there is a rail trail to enjoy. Let’s get on with it. I’m 74 years old.

  9. Bob Yarger says:

    The idea that trails attract tourists is largely hogwash. Having seen three railroad lines in Vermont destroyed for trail use, I can attest that nearly all the users are locals. They do not spend “millions” in restaurants or hotels, as is often stated by trail supporters. Some of the snowmobilers have never been outside the state boundaries. I was recently parked near the D&H Rail-Trail in Granville, NY, for about two hours on a pleasant summer Saturday. Total number of trail users counted: ZERO.

    In these cases of “conversion” (destruction) of railroads for trails, the railroads are held to a different standard. If the rail lines don’t make a lot of money, we hear terms like “uneconomic” or “not viable”. But no public trail has ever made a dime. And the trail will require much of the same maintenance as the railroad, all at public expense. It is also baloney to believe that scrapping the rails will pay for trail construction.

    I am not anti-trail and support trail building when the rails have been long removed. There are many long-abandoned railroad rights-of-way in the Adirondacks that could be used as trails, but to tear out a functioning rail line to create one is utterly nuts – a waste of my taxpayer dollars and a potential transportation resource.

    Bob Yarger

    • Scott says:

      The 109 mile Mickelson Trail is a rail-trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota and is a very similar situation to the Remsen-Placid Trail Corridor. Go ask them how well it effects their recreation and economy.

  10. James Falcsik says:

    The trail group points to economic impact studies to support their claims of the coming economic prosperity due to rail-trail conversion. These studies do not appear out of thin air; someone has to pay for them. Ultimately, the group who commissions and pays for the study influences the outcome and uses it to legitimize a position. Look beyond the paid studies and find actual economic data available online for almost any community. For example, Damascus, VA, has an average income level of only $22K per year while the average of the rest of VA is over $61K. With many recreational trails in the area, including the Virginia Creeper Trail, if the rail-trails really produced an economic boost, don’t you think the average income would be much higher? It does not in Damascus because by far the typical user is local, and this reflects the local income level. What is missing is a large influx of out-of-region visitors, and this is proven by their own published user demographic they only receive approximately 4% of users that are overnight primary purpose users.

  11. D.C. Rohleder says:

    In my opinion, the rail corridor itself has proven that rail service is no longer commercially viable through this area – whether it be for freight or passenger service. It has been in operation for well over 100 years, and it is in the state it is simply because of the automobile and roads taking over. If rail service was still commercially viable, it would still be running. I do not feel state or federal funds should be used to prop it up.

    I have always been a fan of rail travel, and have a soft spot for those who would like to keep it running, but government funds should not be used to prop up an old, dying horse. Rather, I feel most of the corridor should be re-purposed for recreational use. A much larger segment of the population would be better served by recreational use than by keeping the train on life-support.

    • Paul says:

      DC there has been no train running along the rail corridor as a tourist train. Just a spur at each end. One end being pretty successful going where it actually goes somewhere. A full length tourist train has never been tried nor proven one way or the other. A non-existent rail trail has been compared to a non -existent train.

      • D.C. Rohleder says:

        The main way to access the central Adirondacks a century ago was via rail, then stagecoach or steamer to your final destination. However, when roads were built into the interior and automobiles became common, passenger rail ridership fell, became commercially, non-viable, then was discontinued. Freight carried on a while longer, but also became non-viable. Then the rails fell into disrepair and short excursion trains were tried with varying degrees of success.

        Whether they are considered excursion trains, tourist trains, or passenger trains, it has been done before. Now I agree that tourist/excursion trains have not been tried over the entire corridor in decades, but I feel that the reason they died out before – lack of year-round ridership – would still plague the lines into the future, and thus would not be viable unless taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize the corridor. Just my opinion.

        • Bruce says:

          D.C. As low key as the current ADKRR situation is, there were over 70,000 riders in 2012. Are we to believe if there is more miles of track available, Big Moose to Tupper Lake for example, there won’t be significantly more? Longer rides attract more people.

          Let’s first get the trackage (that section was closed because at the present time it is deemed unsafe for passenger use by the powers that be). Once the mileage becomes available, that opens the way for longer and more interesting excursions, including “themed” trains, even in winter.

          The ADKRR is ready to do it, they’re currently refurbishing two more passenger cars. Why go the extra time and expense if a much greater ridership is not expected? The “themed” trains are often fully booked as it is.

          • D.C. Rohleder says:

            Bruce,
            I felt for many years that it would be great to have rail service between Utica & Lake Placid. The question is, after a lot of capital expense, can ridership be expected to continue to grow and be self-supporting? How many repeat excursion riders will there be and how many new ones every year? What environmental restrictions may be placed on the locomotives? Diesel fuel costs? It may only be self-supporting for a few years. A real gamble, isn’t it?

            As I said previously, when I lived in the CNY area it would have been great. But realistically, it would likely never be a commuter line with flexible schedules – even modern Amtrack schedules are very restrictive and expensive. But rather, it would only be available to tourist ticket holders, with no real payback for the taxpayers who are expected to put up the capital and take the risk. Any carrier that runs the line can simply declare bankruptcy if the gamble fails, with the taxpayers left holding the bag. Ideally, I feel if the rail line is allowed to connect Utica and Lake Placid, the operating company as well as the towns and villages along the line who stand to gain financially by it should be required to put up the capital to pay for the necessary upgrades and maintenance, not NYS taxpayers.

            Another reason I have changed my opinion against the rail line is that the ONLY people who can use the corridor are paying riders. Walking, running, snowmobiling, etc. would likely be considered trespass for safety/legal reasons as with most rail lines. It is unlikely it could ever be used for anything other than excursion riders. This would be fine if it were not using a corridor through the heart of the Adirondack Park. But the Park belongs to the people of NY – all of the people. Even public roads can be used by walkers, runners, bikers, as well as automobiles – any time of day, any season. The rail line basically takes that park corridor and locks it up, with only paying customers allowed to access it. I don’t feel this in keeping with the spirit of the Adirondack Park. Just my opinion.

          • Tom Payne says:

            The ADKRR and NYS have had twenty plus years to prove their idea and get private funding, not funding by the NYS taxpayer. The train was oversold from the start. They promised the moon twenty years ago and did not deliver. It is time for the Trail. Enough is enough. As for the NYS plan and the cost of the proposed trail it is typical gold plated NY as always. Lets try keeping it simple and cost effective Albany. We don’t need a gold plated trail designed by the Albany elites. Just a trail will do. Maybe that has been the problem with this whole corridor from the beginning. Too much Albany.

  12. Hope says:

    A great turn out of trail support at the hearing. If there was any doubt that Tupper is a trail town there isn’t now. Actually I was surprised at how few local rail supporters showed up and those that did were gone way before it was over and only a few spoke.

  13. tjr says:

    Wow a lot of passion. Get this though I do drive 4 hours to arrive at the snowmobile mecca. I would love to ride sled in the winter to beyond old forge and big moose but then I will be spending money outside old forge. Is it best for the whole ADK for just parts?

  14. Paul says:

    This should be all of one thing or all of the other. If you want to do a small rail-trail like this just refurbish some of the other abandoned rail beds in the area. See how it goes. If it is a big success then expand on that maybe remove all the rails if it is a huge success. Why destroy one kind of infrastructure to test another when it could easily be done on some other abandoned rail beds?

    Trying to please everyone usually ends up pleasing no one. That is what I am afraid will happen here.

  15. Michelle Somma says:

    When I was much younger I did my share of hiking including sections of the Appalachian trail as well as parts of the Adirondacks and many of our National Parks. Now that I am older seeing the area by train would be delightful.

    • DC Rohleder says:

      I have always thought an even more pleasant way to see the interior via the corridor would be by the use of quiet, rubber-tired trains or shuttles operated by the villages that would allow people who would prefer to ride rather than walk or bike to use the corridor. They are usually electric or propane vehicles that allow reasonably easy passenger access and could conceivably stop and pick-up or drop off passengers anywhere along their line. Of course this would only work in seasonable weather, but would much more eco-friendly and passenger-friendly than a locomotive with fixed schedules. For instance, they could depart each village at hourly intervals. Passengers could either buy tickets, day passes, or ride free supported by the towns and villages paying into a pool.

      The ride could be narrated either by the driver or by recording, or just be left silent. It could stop at places of interest to highlight nesting birds, plants, and scenery. It can be stopped to watch a moose crossing the track instead of killing it, as vehicle speed could be governed at 10-15 mph.

      There would be some congestion if the trails are being heavily used, but if the vehicle is narrow enough, it shouldn’t be a big issue as long as the trail is constructed as wide as possible. It may not be possible if the path is too narrow. But I think it would be a good thing to investigate.