Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advocacy Group On-Board With Upper Hudson Rail-Trail

Parks & Trails New York, an Albany-based advocacy group, has joined an effort to develop a rail-trail between North Creek and Tahawus.

The group Friends of the Upper Hudson, which seeks to build a 29-mile multi-use trail along an old railroad bed, recently announced the partnership. Parks & Trails will provide help with technical issues, planning, public outreach, grant writing, fundraising and other activities.

The trail would follow the railway formerly used to haul ore from the NL Industries mine, passing through the towns of Johnsburg, Indian Lake, Minerva and Newcomb. The trail would provide easy access to the scenic Upper Hudson and Boreas Rivers, as well as a dramatic crossing of the Hudson over a long trestle.

When complete, the trail could lure tens of thousands of users to a part of the Adirondacks that is not visited by many hikers. But there are concerns about the project. First is the cost, estimated at $4.4 million for a stone-dust trail, or $7.3 million for paved. And there are also access questions, as the right-of-way (across both private and state land) will expire with the removal of the tracks. However, backers say a federal law to encourage the reuse of rail beds may solve the complicated land issue.

The project backers have completed a feasibility study and are working with partners to acquire and preserve the corridor for trail use.

Trains haven’t run on this section of rail for decades. To the south, a tourist line called The Upper Hudson Scenic Railroad operates in warmer weather on the same line between North Creek and Riparius. That railroad faces an uncertain future: the section is owned by Warren County, which is seeking proposals from new operators for a scenic railroad. The rail-trail would ave no impact on the tourist line.

The Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail maintain a website here. To find out more about the Healthy Trails, Healthy People program, contact Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or ptny@ptny.org or visit the Parks & Trails New York website here.

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