Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is Rails With Trails A Practical Solution?

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)Supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad continue to push for keeping the tracks at the Lake Placid end of the rail line and for creating a “rails-with-trails” option for bikers, hikers, snowmobilers, and others who want to use the state-owned corridor.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates the railroad, said in a news release last week that a multi-use travel corridor best serves the public interest. “Rails and trails can exist and work successfully together,” it declared.

On Monday, a volunteer group called Trails with Rail Action Committee (TRAC) also voiced support for this idea. TRAC says it has been working with state officials “to identify recreational trails within the existing Remsen to Lake Placid travel corridor and looks forward to contributing to realizing the full economic potential of this important asset in the Adirondacks.”

Both the railway society and TRAC were reacting to the state’s announcement last week that it would revisit the management plan for the 119-mile corridor between Remsen and Lake Placid. The state is proposing to remove the tracks in the 34-mile stretch from Tupper Lake to Placid but leave the rest of the tracks in place.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which runs tourist trains out of Old Forge and Lake Placid, does not want to lose any of the line. In its news release, the society says it is confident that the state eventually will decide in favor of maintaining and rehabilitating the entire rail line, “recognizing that this is not and should not be an either-or proposition.”

Most observers agree that it’s not practical to build a recreational trail alongside the full length of the tracks, given that the rail line often crosses wetlands and water bodies. Environmental regulations and construction costs would pose difficult and perhaps insurmountable challenges.

However, rail supporters say it’s still possible to have rails with trails. By this, they mean we should build a trail beside the tracks where feasible. Elsewhere, users of the corridor would be temporarily diverted to adjacent roads, existing trails, or newly constructed trails.

Joe Mercurio, president of Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, sees the rails-with-trails option as unworkable, especially for bicyclists.

“The idea of getting off the trail, going on a road, and getting back on the trail again isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to attract people to the area,” he said.

As Mercurio points out, one of the appeals of a bike path is that it gives people—including families with young children—a chance to ride away from highway traffic.

But what if riders were diverted onto trails instead of roads?

To date, Adirondack Scenic Railroad has not offered a proposal showing where bikers and other users would leave and re-enter the rail corridor or where they would travel when outside it. But Jack Drury, a Saranac Lake guide and member of TRAC, has offered a rails-with-trails proposal for the Tupper-to-Placid corridor—the section that the state has suggested should be converted into a recreational path.

UnderDrury’s proposal, it appears (just eyeballing the map) that a side-by-side trail could be built on roughly half of the corridor—in discontinuous sections. Users would need to leave the corridor for long detours around Lake Colby, Lake Clear, and other water bodies. In most cases, the detours would take people on trails through Forest Preserve lands.

When I spoke with Drury on Monday, he conceded that road bikers would not be able to utilize Forest Preserve trails. Indeed, his website says of the proposed Placid-to-Tupper route that “short sections could be done by road bikes and the entire thing could be done on mountain bikes, by foot, ski, and snowshoe.”

Drury wants to see trails connecting communities throughout the Adirondack Park, but he said he is focused more on hiking and cross-country skiing than on biking. That said, he believes a side-by-side trail can be built between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

As to the rest of the route?

“What I’m advocating is not for road bikes,” he said.

Bob Hest, a spokesman for TRAC, said the group appreciates Drury’s work. Although the group hasn’t formally endorsed his proposal, he said, it’s the kind of thing TRAC has in mind for the corridor. “It’s in the mix,” Hest said. “It’s among the items we’re going to put forward for this review [of the management plan].”

As far as I know, this is the only detailed proposal by the advocates for rails with trails, and it seems incompatible with the concept of a long-distance bike path that would link the communities of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake. Thus, Drury’s proposal obviously is unacceptable to ARTA, whose main goal is to create such a bike path (which could be used by snowmobiles in winter).

Mercurio, a Saranac Lake resident, doubts that a long-distance trail such as Drury is proposing–making use of parts of the rail corridor and spur trails–would attract a lot of visitors. “I don’t see it as a reasonable alternative,” he said. “Our proposal is the preferable one that is going to offer something beneficial to the community, not only economically, but recreationally.”

So, yes, it may be possible to have rails with trails, but that doesn’t resolve the controversy. At least, the only rails-with-trails proposal on the table doesn’t resolve it. It’s a little like apples and oranges.

Last week, I asked Joe Martens, the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, why the state didn’t back the rails-with-trails idea for the section between Placid and Tupper.

“My staff—and DOT’s staff—looked at it very carefully, and it’s very complicated,” he said, alluding to environmental and legal challenges posed by wetlands and Forest Preserve regulations. Later, he added in an email: “It’s when the trail needs to be diverted to adjoining land where it gets complicated and costly.”

However, Martens said the advocates of rails with trails will have a chance to make their case in public hearings on the management plan. “This is just a proposal,” he said. “We’re still going to solicit input.”

Photo by Susan Bibeau: Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s train approaches Saranac Lake.

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Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the former Editor of 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.




73 Responses

  1. George L. says:

    Phil, do you have any idea of the extent to which the State is considering an upgrade of the rails to Tupper Lake? Any thoughts beyond tourist trains? Thanks.

    • Eric says:

      George – there will NEVER be an upgrade of the rails to Tupper Lake because there is no demand for a railroad to Tupper Lake. You think a family of four is going to take an expensive train ride when they can drive there for next to nothing? And do you think the state has money to spend on something so frivolous? Any state money for rails will be devoted to upgrading the line from Albany to Buffalo, where there is real demand 12 months a year, and where a few million people live.

      • Paul says:

        Didn’t they just expand the RR to Big Moose? You can drive there? Part of the problem with the norther section of the RR is that it has not been expanded to the more scenic and fun parts of the line. Where did the get the money for the southern expansion?

  2. Curt Austin says:

    If a bike path advocate proposed a route for a railroad, great skepticism would be warranted. He probably doesn’t know much about railroad engineering. He may be willfully ignorant about the details that determine feasibility, like maximum effective grade, and just wave his hands when it comes to high costs or difficult legal issues. He knows that many people have no appetite for such details, and his proposal will find favor regardless.

    Skepticism is also warranted when a rail advocate proposes an alternative route for a bike path.

    Mr. Drury is neither a rail nor trail advocate, as far as I know; perhaps he’s simply an advocate for peace. But something is amiss when the distinction is blurred between a quiet, smooth, flat bike path and a gnarly mountain bike trail.

    • Phil Brown says:

      Curt, Jack is definitely a trails advocate. He has blogged about his ideas for various trails many times. He also is an outdoors educator and experienced hiker, skier, etc. But he is offering a different vision for the trail corridor than ARTA. Basically, it comes down to what kind of trail (or trails) do we want? ARTA wants a long-distance bike path; Jack is proposing something different.

  3. Eric says:

    There is no money for both the rails and the trails. There will be environmental damage if the trail is built next to the rail. Rip out the tracks already. The salvage can be used to create the trail. Just get it done. Look what the Erie Canal trail has done for communities. Can you imagine LP, SL and TL with tons of residents and tourists using it? Instead we are stuck with a stupid tourist train that provides almost ZERO economic activity to the area. Tourists don’t come to the Adirondacks because of a train.

    • Jon says:

      The only times that I have been to the Adirondacks, I have gone there by train. I have no desire to drive 5 hours to get to Lake Placid.

    • Andrew says:

      Eric why be so hostile? Build a trail along side the tracks, you make seem as if a sidewalk beside a road is complicated rocket science. :S

      • Barb O says:

        Andrew, did you even read the article? That’s the problem with the train guys…they jump on this trail + rail idea without any consideration of the economic or ecological feasibility of it. I’m beginning to think it’s willful ignorance – anything to change the subject and delay the inevitable removal of those ancient tracks.

        • Andrew says:

          Barb, why do you want to destroy some thing for nothing? No one is saying that trails are bad things, but why not do something that co-exists and is a win-win for everyone.

          • AdkBuddy says:

            The forces of nature and 40 years of neglect have already destroyed the tracks. This is not like patching pot holes on the highway, it would major reconstruction.

            • Bill Hutchison says:

              Nonsense. This is not a major construction challenge, just replacing old ties and reballasting.

      • AdkBuddy says:

        It is complicated Andrew. Very, very, very complicated. Take a ride on the rails from Beaver River to Lake Clear and you will see why.

    • D. P. Lubic says:

      I’ve done some real study on the cost of trail conversion. I can personally tell you Eric is quite wrong about the rail paying for the trail. You’ll more than lucky to get 20% of the cost of the trail with the scrap value of the rail.

      Am I a rail advocate? Absolutely! A strong one, too! But I’m also an auditor, and I have some training in engineering. Both fields require a mind of logic and honesty.

      I also don’t like being called on false statements! I’ll admit to being sensitive to that after being called a Communist for suggesting a light rail line as an alternative to a highway. Nothing like being falsely accused to make you want to be right, to be able to call other people liars if they accuse you of dishonesty.

  4. I just spent 2 weeks in Telluride and Aspen, Colorado – both mountain tourist communities. Both interlaced with paved bike paths, many of which do follow old railroad beds. I’ve never seen so many fit and active people! Free “loaner” bikes and better quality rental bikes are available in many locations. There seem to be paved bike paths all through Colorado – even at the highest elevations of I-70 (12,000+ feet), there was a parallel bike path – with lots of road bikers riding it. However, Telluride also has a FREE gondola service between the valley community (Telluride) and Mountain Village (the ski resort complex). Who ever came up with this idea was brilliant! FREE means everyone uses it. It operates from 7 am to midnight, every day of the year. People commute to work on it. Families staying in Mountain Village ride it down to Telluride, shop in their stores, enjoy their concerts, dining, and other events. Local kids take their mountain bikes up on it and ride the trails down. Telluride visitors and residents ride it up to the Mountain Village for events and dining there. The 2 communities are linked by FREE transportation – which provides more economic support to both than a fee would provide to the gondola business. (If I understood things correctly, the gondola service is subsidized by the ski resort community).

    We already have a functioning rail transportation system between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, potentially to Tupper Lake. It does seem a shame to rip it up when it could actually serve a useful purpose.

    I’m neither a bike nor a snowmobile rider. I’m still hoping wise and creative minds will prevail and come up with a solution that can combine the best of both worlds – train and bike path. Each side of the argument can show strong support for their point of view. But let’s continue to look and think “outside the box” and thoroughly explore all the alternatives and variations possible.

    • hope says:

      There is a reason that CO is one of the most fit states in the Union. You just witnessed it. Lots and lots of recreation activities and venues for it’s citizens. As for free transportation, nothing is free and the taxes collected by these communities help fund these amenities. In Telluride the Gondola was built to transport skiers from both sides of the mountain. That was it’s first use but it also doubles as a transportation for each community when skiing is not in use. It is a unique ski area that utilizes both roads and the gondola to move people. These communities have multitudes of tourists and locals who come to these venues buy lift tickets and stay in lodges and spend beaucoup bucks to do so. Lift tickets sometimes reaching $200 per day depending on the day or activity. It is these funds and subsequent taxes collected that provide for “Free” transportation. None of this “Free” transportation came to be until there was significant growth at Telluride that reached beyond the small box canyon of the village and caused the other side of the mountain to be developed. It was significant community growth that fuels these amenities. We need growth in our communities to have the necessary revenue for fund these “out of the box” solutions. Why not get with Lake Placid and help fund the “free” shuttle that runs around Lake Placid and takes people to Wilmington. That is what is done in Vail. There are shuttle busses that connect Vail with all the surrounding communities. The reason people come to visit or move there is because of the recreation amenities not because there is “free” transportation.

    • Paul says:

      Near Telluride you will also find the Durango and Silverton narrow gauge RR. If the funds were available a full line ARR could be similar. I do agree that we should use many of the old RR lines we have around here for bike trails. Many have been turned into hiking trails without considering their use as bike trails. But I guess some of that is due to Forest Preserve issues that you don’t have on National Forest land out west.

    • George L says:

      An excerpt from “The Brighton Story” by Geraldine Collins, page 55:

      Re: railroad that connected Malone to Utica by way of Tupper Lake: “Train service was excellent, especially during the 1920’s and 30’s when there were six trains a day. This service was very popular with the local people who wanted to shop in Malone or Saranac Lake. Local children traveled to and from school by trains. Until the automobile cut into their passenger business in the period following World War II, trains were the main mode of travel for the townspeople. Extra cars were put on at Malone Fair time each fall. Local resorts advertised that is was possible to make a trip to Montreal and back the same day and the railroad promoted Brighton resorts in their folders as early as 1894. Freights ran four to six trains a day, carrying all the goods that had to be shipped out of the area”

      The tracks south of Tupper should be used for a light rail commuter system within the Park. This would be a bigger game changer than a bike trail from Tupper to Placid.

      • Hope says:

        What community south of Tupper would benefit from a “commuter” train? Other than the small community of Piercefield, just where are commuters going to come from? It’s too long a ride to commute from Old Forge to Tupper Lake and what good is a commuter line which only runs during summer and fall? No one is even pretending that the train will run during the winter. Commuter runs require consistent schedules with multiple trips per day. There is hardly any demand for the tourist runs now.

      • Andrew says:

        Commuter trains at one time did run from Malone to Montreal.

        The loss of the track north of Tupper Lake towards Montreal is a problem for generating potential passenger & freight traffic.

  5. The “rip up the tracks” advocates continue to insist that we “can’t” have both a bike path and a railroad. My eldest brother told me when I was young “There’s no such thing as can’t.” If you want to do something, you can find a way to do it. It just takes persistence and effort. After all they found a way to build the Northway through Forest Preserve and recently NYCO found a way to mine Forest Preserve (not that I approve of the latter). Yes, cost is a problem to be overcome, but that is true no matter what is done. As for the environmental issue, how much more disruptive than the existing tracks would a parallel bike path be? And does it really have to be a road bike path? Are there likely to be a lot of road bicyclists who want to ride from Old Forge to Lake Placid? More than would ride a train? The “can’t” frame of mind is what’s limiting the options. We should be thinking in terms of “how” instead of “can’t”.

    • Paul says:

      Most of the bike paths I have been on don’t seem to have to many serious “road” bikers on them. These paths usually have (as described above) slower riders including small children and families. It is too dangerous to ride fast on a road bike (or even a mt. bike) on these kinds of trails. These are more of a family affair or for riders looking for a flat ride that is pretty easy.

    • Jon says:

      Jim, they built the Northway in the 1960’s. Different era. And with limited funds for rail, will it go to a fairly useless line where few people live (Utica to Lake Placid) and where it will only be used seasonally, or between Albany and Buffalo, where 3 million people live?

    • Barb O says:

      So with that logic, no matter how long an option is considered (and this one has) when the conclusion is it can’t be done (read the article, read the studies) why is it a sin to say “can’t?” Daydreaming and wishing it were different does not get a trail built. A trail CAN happen and the train IS failing. Time to make a decision.

      • Andrew says:

        So does that mean your county roads are failures too? :S

        • D. P. Lubic says:

          This brings up an important point.

          A highway doesn’t make money for anybody, really; your gas taxes and tolls barely cover 51% of the cost of the road system. Essential Air Service operators can get subsidies amounting to hundreds of dollars per passenger. This trail will have to be paid for by the taxpayer; the last I checked, that was the plan, with the hope that expanded tourist trade (doubtful, but that’s for another time) would make it worthwhile.

          A railroad? It’s supposed to pay for EVERYTHING, and in the case of a privately owned road, pay taxes and a return to investors, too, or else it goes away.

          Tell me that isn’t a double standard. Tell me that’s the way things should be, that all else but a railroad gets a free pass.

          Just tell me why you think it should be that way.

  6. clark lubbs says:

    The tracks go through designated wilderness, and have an exemption from the no mechanised vehicle clause. once the tracks are gone will the sierra club then start a law suit claiming that the Forever Wild clause is reinstated, and no mechanised vehicles (Bikes, and snowmobiles) will be allowed.

    • Jon says:

      A bike is a mechanized vehicle? You think the Sierra Club would file a lawsuit against bikes? The extremism of the rail supporters is evident here. Anything to keep this old dinosaur.

      • Paul says:

        This is not only a bike trail but a snowmobile trail, and one that is estimated to greatly increase snowmobile traffic in these (some Wilderness) areas. The legitimate question here is not if environmental groups are going to react negatively to bike traffic but how will they react to more snowmobile traffic in and around places like Lowes Lake? If this travel corridor is re-designated as a trail corridor rather than a RR corridor why is it “extremism” to think that perhaps they will again try and designate it something else for example a non-motorized corridor? Here many folks want to get rid of the train maybe in the future some other groups will want to get rid of the snowmobiles?? I agree many groups would be hesitant to file suit against bikers. Against snowmobile interests? Yep, I think they would. In fact they have in other places:

        http://sfbay.sierraclub.org/yodeler/html/2008/11/article2.htm

        • Bill Hutchison says:

          This is a real wild card. Lost the train and you might lose the right to operate any motorized recreational vehicles.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Clark,
      In fact there is no “exemption”, and no threat of anything being “reinstated” as you’ve suggested. The railroad is within a Travel Corridor, one of the state land classifications for Forest Preserve lands. The State Land Master Plan, which guides the management of these lands and effectively has the force of law does not explicitly require a change to another classification if the tracks are removed, and furthermore, no one is advocating that it should become some other classification that would prohibit mechanized uses. To suggest as much is purely speculative, and the organizations that are the most likely to advocate for such a change have already gone on the record stating that they do not intend to support any change that would prohibit snowmobiling and biking.

      How anyone can take TRAC’s ideas seriously after North Elba’s experience is beyond me.

      • Another Matt says:

        To clarify, the corridor does not run through any wilderness area. In some cases sits between two wilderness areas. The 1996 UMP states that the travel corridor status can remain after the rails are removed.

  7. RJ says:

    I think the rail/trail is a good idea because not everyone has the means of transportation to get up North or to other areas. With the expansion of the railroad, it makes it easier for anyone with limited resources to travel North. Plus, with the trails, it creates the opportunity for users to experience the great nature the area has to offer at their own pace, as well as bring in people from all over that want to see the area. The rail operators could even work something out for trail users who are on the trail and are near a stop to have them get on and take them to a certain area. There should be a limited environmental impact as well because the rail path still exists, it just needs to be cleared from over growth and the rail repaired. I feel like the rail/trail could co-exist, and really nothing major needs to be changed or should be impacted, it’s just the repair of the railway that would take the most work.

    • Hope says:

      Another person who apparently can’t read either.
      If all it would take is clearing some brush along the side of the tracks to build a trail do you actually think we would even be having this debate at all.

      • Andrew says:

        You’re not interested in building trails, you’re interested in removing railroads. That has always been the problem!

      • RJ says:

        I did not say that, its part of the process to be done for trail creation. There’s easement room along the route for trails, clearing room is just a part of the process. Creating trails and the rails won’t require clearing forests, that’s what a lot of the concern and debate is about. The room is there for both to exist, I’ve seen it. Both sides just need to work together.

        • Bill Hutchison says:

          It takes two to tango, RJ. The trail people have insisted on demolishing the railroad and that’s no way to start a dialog.

  8. Tree says:

    All you folks who think taking up the tracks will lead to a trail need to read Mr Keet’s book from the mid-90’s, in which he postulates for taking up the tracks and letting the corridor return to “forever wild.” I maintain that this is the true goal of the “trail” advocates, although they will vehemently deny it, since they need all the potential trail users (snowmobiles included) to support their effort.

    Your best bet for getting a trail is rail WITH trail. Otherwise you’ll just be getting more forest that nobody can use.

  9. Matt says:

    Tree is right. I am scared now. Forget the trail. Just restore the rail. Everybody can go home now.

    Seriously, There is no law or guidelines that tells the state which option to pick. This governor clearly favors solutions that try to make everyone happy. At the end of the day, this is the governors decision. Do you think that after spinning wheels for 3 years so that he didnt make anyone unhappy, he would actually come to a conclusion that results in no rails or trail? You really don’t need to scare people away from wanting the best use of this asset. If you think the rails are the best alternative, support that option. Don’t resort to scare tactics.

    PS. I hear the train advocates secretly want to the rails completed because they want to round us Adirondackers up and ship us off. Just saying….

  10. Mike says:

    I have a few questions. First, if ARTA got the trail they desire, is it going to be a paved trail? Very few people will ride a real road bike on even a gravel trail. Cyclocross and mountain bikes, sure, but not road bikes. If the trail is to be paved, who pays for that? Look how expensive paving your driveway is. Also, what about the environmental impact of all that paving equipment and asphalt as you go over wetlands?

    Now the cost of salvage has been bandied about as being mitigated by taking up the rails. Where are these rails going? They are basically worth pennies on the pound. Also, what happens to all the railroad ties? You know, the ones that have been treated with creosote, and other anti rotting chemicals? You don’t think the APA and DEC will have some stringent handling and disposal procedures that’ll drive up the cost?

    Now, if the trail is made between Tupper and Placid, how many people will make that 68 mile round trip in a day? What is the true amount of money the trail will infuse locally? How long before it pays for itself? How much money has the Lamoille trail in VT generated? Where does the money to maintain it come from? Where rail trails seem to do well is where they are at the edge of population centers or within 30 minutes of major population centers. That isn’t exactly how I’d describe the Tupper-Placid corridor.

    I’ve been to CO also and ridden the trails mentioned previously. Regarding the comment of how fit everyone was there, it’s because it’s a different culture there. Many people who live there do so seasonally, and come from places like TX to escape the heat. Also, the towns with the trails had established economies for tourism and other activities before the trails were made, not the other way around.

    On to more productive tasks. What if a trail were built where feasible as previously stated, and the trains could ferry people to the next segment, or to wherever they wanted to start and end from? It would take work to coordinate schedules, but the Western Maryland Scenic RR made it work, and there is a trail alongside their railroad. I admit that most of that line was doubletracked, unlike the Adirondack. So it would take work and cooperation, which amongst reasonable adults shouldn’t be an issue…

    • Hope says:

      First of, as stated several times, the proposed trail will not be paved with asphalt but be surfaced with hard packed crusher run which a a suitably hard enough surface that any bicycle could be utilized. The type of surface is better for drainage and easier to repair. This type of surface stands up better to severe cold weather and holds the snow better on its surface. In the spring it can be raked and rolled and any damaged areas are easily repaired.
      The recent study released by PTNY on the Canalway Trail shows the a significant percentage of riders (2/3) surveyed, are interested in trails which are longer than 50 miles. Those looking for shorter excursions
      can decide for how long they wish to go for in an out and back situation or have someone (a shuttle service?) drop them off somewhere along the corridor and they can ride back. There are several different options that can be made. I’m no athlete and can ride 5 miles into the store from my house in about 20 minutes taking a much more hillier route than the rail trail would be.

      • James Falcsik says:

        Hope, since you are an ARTA director, I have no illusion that I can convince you to look at anything differently, but as they say, the devil is in the details of the NYPT report. It is impressive, and I can see why you would share and desire to have its results for your proposed trail. I pulled all of the following right out of the text; no spin as those of the opposite opinion are likely to claim.

        There are a few items to consider: the actual sample was small, at 562 people. Details from the actual text of the report: spending of a typical user was $26.37; of the sample group, 41% (230) indicated they were very interested in a 50 mi section of the trail and 28% (157) indicated only somewhat interested. The report states a conservative estimate of true, out of region visitors, contributing new money, makes up just 2.5% of the estimated total users.

        The next page shows a pie chart with the title “ECT Visitor Spending” totaling $133.23 per visitor. There is very large difference between the typical user, the true out of region visitor, and the “vacationer” which is a unique metric used in this report. Of the total sample surveys, 124 people indicated they were vacationing, and the average spending for that group was $939 per visit. The purpose of the report was to justify the continued promotion and funding of the trail.

        The Erie Canal Trail has three large urban connections; Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, each contributing an estimated 200,000 visits (users) per year. A typical trail user is on the trail for less than an hour once per week.

        The out of region visitor spending for this trail is higher than many other trail examples, including those example trails referenced in the ARTA impact study and all other New York Parks in eleven regions except one (New York City).

        Interestingly, the ECT having true out of region/overnight visitor counts of 2.5% is not far behind the Virginia Creeper Trail counts of the same at 4%.

        The NYPT report is impressive, and your method of sharing this gets much more emotional impact than my understanding of the same presented facts. ARTA tossed the Camoin Study as too low, and used exaggerated numbers in your own RTC-purchased study; so how can this new report be translated into better numbers for your proposed trail?

        • AdkBuddy says:

          I googled you James, and you are so biased in favor or railroads, your opinion cannot be taken seriosly.

          • James Falcsik says:

            Sure it can. Take the facts I have presented with references, and show me where they are incorrect. Of the numbers I wrote above, identify those that are from my opinion instead of directly out of the NYPT report. Please do it one paragraph at a time so I can respond.

            I am a railroad supporter, but most importantly, I am choosing to present published facts that clearly illustrate the misleading information ARTA directors are providing to their community.

            I expect you will attack me (and Google me, which is really silly) when you cannot refute the data I present. No problem.

      • Mike says:

        Can you provide a link to hard packed crusher run? What is it made of? Will it be easy to traverse if a road bike has 700×23 tires on it? If it can be raked I wonder just how easy it’ll be for the average road cyclist with their 700×23 tires. 700×25 may help yet that is still a skill level that makes me wonder. Mountain and cross bikes, no problem.

        So you mention shuttle service. The railroad can do this. Who would pay for the livery licenses, vehicles, and insurance on a public shuttle?

        Lastly, you can average 15 mph on a hilly route? Pretty impressive. Group rides for many people who are lower level racers are typically a 14-16 mph average. Heck, I’ve done races where we were going flat out and barely averaged 18 mph, but I digress.

        The PTNY study surveyed 562 people. That is a far cry from the number ARTA predicts will be on this proposed trail. Can you answer why there were so few on the long established, well known Erie Canalway Trail?

        • Hope says:

          I’ve ridden a road bike on crusher run roads so I don’t think it’s a problem. I expect serious road competitive riders would not be that interested in such a trail except for a recreational ride with friends and family.the folks I know that live near these trails that are serious bike riders have extra wheels with different tires depending on the surface they plan to ride on. The trail surface is one that is typically used on rural trails and the type that works best for situation. You will need to determine for yourself if it will work for you.
          As for the PTNY study questions, I think they are best directed at PTNY as I have no direct knowledge of how or why the did what they did. Put I’m sure it you asked they would tell you.
          All I can tell you is it takes me around 20 minutes to get from my house to the store most of the time as long as I don’t stop to visit with people I see along the way. Then it might take an hour. Regular road bike no clips on pedals with grocery paniers. Maybe it’s not exactly 5 miles but it’s pretty close. So what if takes 30 minutes? What’s your point? Who cares. You can ride the rail trail for 5 minutes or 5 hours. It’s your choice.
          There are shuttle services right now available for paddlers. You don’t think they wouldn’t develop for bikers too. Of course it would be a service for a fee. I imagine some bike shops would be the first to offer up that service. As it is now we have friends and family members who are happy to drop us off at a starting point for a trip regardless of whether it’s a bike ride from Horseshoe Lake to Masswepie or or paddle from Long Lake to Tupper. I think it would be a great trip to be dropped off at Sabittis Station and ride back into Tupper Lake. Truly a beautiful ride. Having a train run along side you in that setting just ruins it for me. If I wanted an urban type of experience I could ride the roads with the trucks and cars.

          • D. P. Lubic says:

            “Having a train run along side you in that setting just ruins it for me. If I wanted an urban type of experience I could ride the roads with the trucks and cars.”

            And so the truth comes out; Hope just doesn’t like trains.

            There’s nothing wrong with that; she’s entitled to her opinion. I won’t argue with her.

            But I think she’s wrong. A railroad is or can be a country thing treads lightly on the land. That sounds funny, considering how rail equipment is often big and heavy.

            But think again, look again. Look at a location from the air, or a satellite photo, where you know a railroad to be.

            One of the things that stands out is how relatively invisible it is. Rivers are quite prominent, big highways are expansive ribbons, and even secondary roads are easily visible, but very often, a railroad is hard to see. A lot of times you would find it not by looking for it directly, but by looking for the trees that are on each side of it. Then, when you zoom in, you see the track or tracks between them.

            https://www.google.com/maps/@39.3257375,-77.7413975,2499m/data=!3m1!1e3

            https://www.google.com/maps/@39.3881551,-77.8855516,2497m/data=!3m1!1e3

            https://www.google.com/maps/@44.2809958,-73.9877609,2313m/data=!3m1!1e3

            Another thing is sound. First off, a railroad is normally quiet unless a train is around. That sounds silly, I know–but on a road, cars and trucks are almost always around. A busy highway will roar all the time, day and night. Very few railroads do that.

            In addition to that, there is the sound quality. I like to use the word “timbre.” That’s a musical term, and it refers to the sound that identifies an instrument; it’s the word that says a guitar sounds like a guitar, a piano sounds like a piano.

            Trains can be and often are pleasant sounding, particularly steam trains, which often have melodious whistles. Some sound like a voice, perhaps a dinosaur or a ghost; others can almost sing.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89TfUia3CLk

            I am reminded of a story I was told by a man about his young son, at that time about five years old. He took this boy to a drag race, and later to the Strasburg Rail Road (that’s its official spelling) in Lancaster County, Pa. The boy didn’t like the drag race at all–he pleaded, “Daddy, why are those cars so angry?”

            Things were different at the Strasburg. There, the boy was willing to walk right up to the locomotive, and touch it. He was unafraid of it, despite its size, its noise, its radiating heat. His father even noted that the locomotive had a completely different feel from the cars at the race; he described it as that of “a big friendly horse.” And this was with the road’s No. 90, their biggest locomotive.

            Here is No. 90, in revenue freight service on the Strasburg Rail Road. Believe it or not, this road runs freight trains behind its steam locomotives. After all, if the engine is already hot, why not use it?

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvQNPVcZAFg

            Doesn’t that railroad fit in with its surroundings? Is it not part of the landscape in Pennsylvania, as much a part of Lancaster County as the Amish and their buggies?

            And this is but one example; I can cite many more.

            I’ll close with a recommendation–no, an invitation, to read “Allies of the Earth,Railroads and the Soul of Preservation,” by Alfred Runte. It’s about just what I’ve been speaking of just now, though much more elegant than I can be.

            http://tsup.truman.edu/item.asp?itemId=277

            http://tsup.truman.edu/preview.asp?editType=item&uniqueId=277

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Runte

            I recommend this book not only for its subject matter, but because it’s a good read!

  11. Tony Goodwin Tony Goodwin says:

    I commend Jack for finally showing on a map some possible routes for an alternate trail. Unfortunately, this proposed route does not come close to achieving ARTA’s stated goal of a wide, smooth, nearly-level trail that can accommodate road bikes in summer and frequent snowmobile traffic with associated grooming in the winter. Such a trail would be very different from all other Adirondack trails and therefore attract a whole new group of trail users.

    Specifically, Jack’s map shows 32 miles of trail between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake compared to 24 miles via the rail corridor. The route does avoid the largest wetlands and the Hoel Pond and Lake Colby causeways. However, of that 32 miles: a) 13 miles is parallel trail requiring additional fill and extending all culverts and bridges; b) over nine miles uses rough existing trails that would have to be smoothed and widened; c) over five miles uses private roads with no assurance that appropriate easements could be obtained – especially through the development east of Hoel Pond; d) over four miles uses busy paved highways with limited shoulders for bicycles and would not provide an alternative route for snowmobiles in low-snow winters; and e) one-half mile of new trail would have to be constructed to the above standard.

  12. Curt Austin says:

    On the subject of rail salvage: When you abandon a railroad, you get quotes from a few major rail salvage companies. Pick the best one, they take the rails and ties away, grade the rail bed, and send you a check.

    The rails themselves are categorized into three groups: re-lay (ready to use somewhere else), re-roll (need re-conditioning), and scrap. I learned this from the guy responsible for the 29-mile Tahawus line, who said he’d have gotten about $1 million for it (not particularly good rail).

    So, salvage is not difficult to arrange, and the money is pretty good. Some have questioned salvage value, and a supposed problem with creosote-laden ties. These are not real problems.

    • D. P. Lubic says:

      Arranging for a scrapper to pick up track–no problem. Same for the ties, although if they have to be disposed of you’re looking at a minimum of $10 per tie, and a mile of track has well over 3,000 of them.

      The real question is how much money you’ll net out of the sale of rail. If you’re looking at scrap value, you’ll be lucky to get 12% or so of the cost of your trail. The sale of rail will not completely pay for the trail conversion, despite what some people in the trail crowd have claimed.

  13. Paul says:

    It looks like the plan here has shifted from a long trail to a short trail at just one end of the line. Aren’t all the stats and studies based on something that is considerably different?

    Is the train a viable thing at the southern end where it now actually goes somewhere that people might actually want to see or visit?

    There seems to be pretty good consensus that the train between SL and LP is a dud. But the train running the entire length of the line is what needs to be compared to a long bike trail.

    As far as a train in winter, the one out near Telluride runs year round. If you can run a train in a place like the Chicago Basin surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks in the Colorado rockies you can run a train here in the winter.

  14. Hope says:

    First off, to run the train in winter you would have to have the corridor lease for winter which currently belongs to the NYS Snowmobile Association. They will not give up that lease willingly. Second, you actually have to have a company with the desire to run trains in the winter which ASR has stated in the past that they have no interest in doing siting difficulties that winter train runs in such a remote area entail and the demand for that experience. They may change their mind in the future but I have not seen any indication that they are prepared for that scenario. The ski trains in North Creek have not been as successful as they were expected to be.
    A visit to Trip Advisor site for the much ballyhooed Pullman Rail Service will let you know how that endeavor is going (not). As much as you desire this to emulate the Durango- Silverton doesn’t make it a realistic proposal. The initial studies presented so far have been for the section of the Corridor from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake. That was for phase one of the trail. The huge interest from Tupper Lake, Piercefield, Colton, Beaver River and NYSSA encouraged us to expand our vision to encompass Old Forge. If there was no interest from these communities then we would have stayed with phase I. What we heard, loud and clear from them is that they did not want to be left out of this endeavor. The reality of it is that people using a trail will stop at all the communities along the corridor and not just once per day maybe. A train may only stop at the major communities once per day at certain times thus ignoring other community benefits.

    • Paul says:

      Hope, thanks, so those ARTA numbers are just for phase one.

      It has the midpoint number of local visitors at 109,000 and O/N visitors at 244,000. Is this right? This says summer only? So being optimistic as far as the Adirondacks goes and say that is 4 months of the year that is almost 3000 users per day. Assuming most use would be on weekend this is one busy trail! These don’t sound at all realistic. Especially with the jogging strollers and wheelchairs and everything else they mention there. This is not like a rail-to-trial running along a beach in Cape Cod or those bike trails running around Hilton Head. This thing is in the woods with a long stretch between points.

      According to the ARTA plan it will cost 4.4million to construct this phase one of the trail.

      If you don’t get the okay for Phase 2 will you still proceed with Phase 1? The numbers look like you need to salvage all the rails to Old Forge?

      • James Falcsik says:

        Paul; you are correct to question the 244,000 overnight visitor estimate as unrealistic. This is not even consistent across different pages of the ARTA documents. On page 8 of the Tupper to Lake Placid Final Plan, the number is “244,260 visitors.” On page 10 this is now called “Trail Visitors-Overnight-244,260”. On page 36 in the chart it reads “New overnight visitors, summer and winter-244,260. By comparison, in the same chart for overnight visitors, Camion/trail = 28,053; Stone/train = 7000 and Camoin/train = 8400.

        By comparison, the Virginia Creeper Trail, estimating 100,870 yearly visitors, drew only 4% overnight visitors at 5,725.

        Even if the extrapolated data for the just released Erie Canal Trail, estimated at 2.5% O/N visitors of the 1.6M visitor projection would be 40,000 overnight stays; along a 277 mile trail with three major urban connections.

        • Paul says:

          Just a bit strange that the midpoint for local visitors is almost equal to the entire population of the park (110K versus 130K)? The high end estimate is 278K or 148 thousand more people than the park has as permanent residents. These of course include repeat visitors (so the same people are counted more than once) but that seems out there given the demographics of the area.

  15. Hope says:

    Look, I didn’t come up with the numbers. Very credible organizations who are experienced with these sort of things did their research and calculations and this is the result. We put out the information to the public for their review. Even if the low point numbers are used its better than the study presented by the ASR study. We state that the numbers are for summer only because that will be the busiest times and because we want people to be aware that the usage numbers do not include any usage by snowmobiles and that those numbers would be in addition to the numbers provided by the study. The reason that the snowmobile information is not included in these studies is because there is not a lot of rail trails that also are snowmobile trails to pull that data from. All of these studies are available for the public to review on our website http://www.thearta.org including the ASR study. We are trying to be as forthcoming as we can with all relevant information. It’s up to you to develop your opinion. I have developed mine from the facts as well as the significant amount of time and effort that I have spent in discussions with people on both sides. I respect that there are different opinions than mine and that is o be expected. But from my personal perspective from day one of my involvement in this endeavor no one has been able to convince me that this conversion is not the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it. I have friends who are railroad fans and are on the opposite side of the issue and try as they might they have not convinced me nor provided any data that their way is the right way. They have lots of emotional reasons but not many factual ones. Lots of personal attacks from rail road fans, especially from outside the area, don’t help their cause in my opinion. A whole lot of trying to discredit individuals on the ARTA board for ulterior motives which are not in the least bit credible. We are in the majority whether you agree or not. The UMP review is the right thing to do and it is way past time to do it.

    • Paul says:

      Just came back from a nice long bike ride so I am feeling good!! Hope, I think you are overplaying this. I get it that you are a big supporter of this. Like I have said here several times in the past. The bike trail idea is a good idea. I just think that these numbers look pretty optimistic given where this trail is going (3000 people a day on average, isn’t this like the entire population of Tupper Lake!). I hope that I am wrong if they decide to go that way but I think some folks are going to be very disappointed if this is what they expect. In the end here the question seems to be one that requires careful consideration. A comparison between a full length train (possibly with multiple uses)and a bike trail is what should have been done.

      Hope, it looks like things are going the way you would like as far a this goes so you should be proud of the work the group has done. Good luck.

    • James Falcsik says:

      Sorry Hope, but even parts of your response here is misleading in relation to published facts.

      You state usage numbers are for summer only, but clearly on page 36 as noted here before, the chart states “summer and winter”.

      While you may not like out of area people joining this discussion unless they agree with you, the truth of published usage numbers and projections, and the context of how you present it, should look the same to everyone no matter where they are: accurate. ARTA has clearly misled the public with incorrect data they have presented in order to make the case for the trail plan. There are numerous examples of this and even the RTC who produced and assisted ARTA on these usage values will not comment on their accuracy because it is too controversial; that is a stunning statement.

      For me this started with the Ghost Town Trail, one I have traveled many times, being referenced as starting in Ebensburg, PA, 70 miles from an urban connection to Pittsburgh. The truth is the closest Ghost Town Trail access point from Pittsburgh is 46 miles, and both Johnstown and Altoona PA are each 25 miles from Ebensburg.

      Calling out ARTA directors on absolutely erroneous statements, with regard to published overnight visitor numbers, is not a personal attack; it is an obligation to be sure your community has correct information on which to base their opinions and financial decisions that affect them. An ARTA founder chose to publically state exaggerated overnight visitor numbers by 1700 percent for the Virginia Creeper Trail; he was called on it, admitted they were erroneous, and this forced the newspaper to print a clarification. The ARTA founder discredited himself. Further, where you had his article posted on one of the ARTA Facebook sites, once the clarification was inserted in the text of the founders writing, you removed it from Facebook.

      http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/544106/Beamish-admits-erroneous-numbers.html?nav=5041

      If you consider the VCT as comparable to the Tupper to Lake Placid Phase 1 proposal, then the real published projected overnight visitor number of 5,725 is not as good as the ASR study, the Camoin study (7,000) or the Stone study (8,400).

      Some of the ARTA founders have a published history of supporting restrictive land classifications for areas this rail corridor passes through. It is natural for some to remember this, and others to reference, when forming their opinions. These are not fabricated stories.

      • Bill Hutchison says:

        James, you are spot on. ARTA has shown a dismaying penchant for heated rhetoric (Blue Haired Railfans…remember that?) and putting out distortions over and over again in repeated op-eds. Finally, we now see that Dick Beamish put out information that exaggerated the number of overnight visitors to the VCT. Beamish did this to himself and was caught.

      • Paul says:

        Wait a minute! Aren’t you just referencing your own opinion piece in the ADE as a source.

        But I do agree that these numbers seem way to pie-in-the-sky.

        BTW you have to pay now for the ADE so if you want most folks to see what you wrote you gotta send it along.

        I think the bottom line is that proponents always exaggerate just like opponents do. Reality should fall somewhere in the middle but to me these numbers, even at the median, are really really high.

        The PPT presentation at the ARTA site I looked at said “summer only”. It also said this:

        “All 40 miles should be hard-surfaced to accommodate road bikes”

        This kind of thing could also effect the numbers. It sounds like this is no longer the plan.

  16. Paul says:

    Ever been to Switzerland? What about the idea of replacing the RR that is there with one of those narrow electric “rack” railways like they have in Zermatt? Imagine a quiet train like that zipping through the Wilderness! I can always dream! Let the locals use the train for free. Everyone else pays (through the nose)!

    • D. P. Lubic says:

      That’s an interesting idea, although you don’t need rack on this railroad for what you’re speaking of; all you need is to go to narrow gauge.

      We did a great deal of that here in the past. The Cumbres & Toltec in Colorado and New Mexico, the Durango & Silverton in Colorado, the White Pass & Yukon in Alaska and Yukon Territory, are all North American examples of slim-gauge lines, running in some of the most spectacular–and toughest–country you ever saw for a railroad. There are other, shorter versions, too, including at least two in California that, like Cass Scenic, rely on special geared drive logging engines to negotiate their tortuous rights-of-way.

      Most of these are three-foot gauge, somewhat narrower than the meter gauge used on a number of lines in Europe. There were lines even narrower still; in Wales and in Maine, there were common carrier railroads, ones that did real work, on track laid to a gauge of only two feet. This is something you often see in an amusement park–but those tiny engines and cars hauled thousands of tons of pulpwood and slate, and passengers too.

      A recreated example of a such a road running in Maine is the reconstructed Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiscasset,_Waterville_and_Farmington_Railway

      http://wwfry.org/

      This railroad not only runs with very authentic equipment, it is also operated in very traditional style. Note in this photo that there are no air hoses, and in their place, pairs of heavy safety chains. The trains on this road do not have air brakes, relying instead on manual braking by real brakemen on each car. This was the practice prior to the invention of the air brake by George Westinghouse:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/trigger25/2859554362/

      A NEW flat car on this road, used in reconstruction and maintenance work; again, notice it does not have air:

      http://www.wwfry.org/aboutus/equipment/flatcar126.html

      There are several roads in Wales that are also of this gauge (actually, its metric counterpart). Among them is the Welsh Highlands Railway, with double ended and double engined Fairlie patent locomotives making up part of its locomotive roster. You would’t think locomotives as old as these are, running on such narrow track as they do, would go as fast as they do, but–they do!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_UUPA8EPxk

      Those little engines put on a show!

      Those Welsh roads also have some of the strangest looking names on their stations. How do you pronounce some of them, much less remember how to spell them?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_Highland_Railway

      All said and done, this is not really a practical choice. It comes down to cost, to essentially relaying the whole railroad, to adding the trail, and to acquiring all new equipment not compatible with very many other roads. On top of that, the equipment is not that much narrower than standard gauge. Two foot gauge equipment from Maine was typically six feet wide; standard gauge equipment is 10 feet wide. You’re not going to have much room for your trail even with this smaller equipment.

      It helps to remember that just because the track gets narrower, your butt does not, and that’s what has to go into a seat!

      • Paul says:

        Thanks. My thinking here is that a quieter electric version on the rails would probably have more support from folks that are not too keen on having trains running in these areas. If you did this there would not be a trail, and you would want to run the train in year round, so snowmobiles either.

        • D. P. Lubic says:

          Ah, electrification of the Adirondack!

          Gotta tell you, if you haven’t already figured that out, that I’m a big steam fan–but electric operation has its advantages and charms as well, and it can have a very distinctive American flavor as well.

          Electrification for a road like the Adirondack could potentially go two ways. One would be what might be called “heavy electrification.” This is along the lines of what was done with the Pennsylvania Railroad between New York and Washington, with a line out to Harrisburg. This was also on the former New Haven from New York to New Haven, and has been extended by Amtrak to Boston in the last 15 years or so. This is the route of the Acela and regional trains today, and in the past was the territory of the PRR’s famous GG-1 electrics and other classes.

          http://www.northeast.railfan.net/classic/PRRdata9.html

          http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/tr_amtk4935a.jpg

          http://www.billspennsyphotos.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=79300734

          You’re right about an electric railroad being quiet. Being the train nut I am, I took some time from an work assignment (translation, the job was short and was completed early) to go to the station in Elkton, Md. and just watch trains for a while. It was the first time I had seen heavy electric operation, and it was impressive, as much for what you didn’t see or hear as much as you did.

          One thing that stood out was traffic density–the trains came, one after another on this four-track railroad, sometimes as many as three in sight at one time. Another was the speed. I’d never seen trains move that fast before; I would estimate what I saw was running at over 100 mph, especially after seeing trains on this same line running in places where I knew they would be at that speed. The final thing was the almost total lack of sound–a bit of a whoosh as they passed, and that was it! The trains I saw were locomotive hauled, with the locomotives being Amtrak AEM-7 class, which are coming up for retirement now:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMD_AEM-7

          http://history.amtrak.com/archives/aem-7-901

          I would argue, though, that a more appropriate electrification scheme, if one could come up with the money for it, would be what an interurban would use.

          What’s an interurban? Well, most people think of trolley cars as a streetcar, or street railway. An interurban was a trolley that ran between towns (inter+urban), often with equipment that was often a good deal larger and faster than what a street railway would have. The best analogy I can come up with is that the streetcars were the counterparts to a local bus, while the interurbans were the equivalent of a service like Greyhound.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interurban

          Some of these could be quite long; the Sacramento Northern, for instance, ran from San Francisco to Chico, Ca.–183 miles.

          They could sometimes turn in speed, too. One such line, the Cincinnati & Lake Erie, staged a publicity race between one of its new, aluminum bodied Red Devils and an airplane. That the trolley won the race perhaps says more about using an obsolescent biplane in 1930, but even at that, the car had to hum along at 97 mph to beat that airplane. This remains the speed record for a trolley car in revenue service.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Devil_(interurban)

          http://www.cable-car-guy.com/images/blog/2012/street_car_paces_plane_flying_193011.jpg

          A close cousin to the Red Devil:

          http://cerablog.com/2013/03/26/a-tale-of-two-high-speeds/

          Prior to the development of cars like the Red Devil and others that featured lightweight construction and high speed operation, there was the classic interurban, very often in wood, an elegant car, the equal of anything on a steam railroad.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interurban#mediaviewer/File:PennsLanding.jpg

          My personal favorites, sadly only in photos today, would be Niles Car Company’s “Electric Pullmans” built for a number of roads, among them the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington,_Baltimore_and_Annapolis_Electric_Railway

          http://www.midcontinent.org/rollingstock/builders/niles.htm

          Of course, one of the big things to promote with this railroad (and other things) would be sustainability. I’ve got some interesting things to share from the internet on just that subject as it may relate to the Adirondack Scenic.

  17. Dave W says:

    Let’s just have some fun here. The ASR DOESN’T now, nor will they in the future have the money to run a successful business all the way from Utica to lake Placid. Plus the state will never give money to fix something that no one know uses! Plus according to the UMP, the corrdior is OWNED by the NYS DOT, so they have final say in anything & according to the UMP the corridor is to be used by SNOWMOBILERS between Dec – Mar of EVERY YEAR. SO unless you want to piss of a 245 million $$$ a year industry in the Adirondacks, YOU’LL never get that changed!

    • D. P. Lubic says:

      Let’s have some more fun. Does the snowmobile crowd have money for the trail? No. Is the snowmobile economic impact increasing? No, it’s actually shrinking.

      Truth is, things are about at a draw right now. We’re in a position of transition, so things don’t look so clear to a lot of people, unless you’ve really studied some numbers over the last 20 years. I should know, I’ve checked the numbers, and I’m a numbers man!

    • James Falcsik says:

      Wait a minute Dave; are you suggesting the NYDOT and the communities inside the Blue Line would put the almighty dollar ahead of the fragile ecosystem of wild and wilderness areas, when some of these older 2-cycle machines produce 1000 times more pollution than your car? Really? I thought only the evil corporations put economics ahead of environmental causes. Where are the carbon footprint counters? How have they been so quite? You would think the Green groups would be rather happy to see all those cars parked in big parking lots in Utica, have them enjoy the scenery on the ride north, and keep the CO and CO2 out of the North Country. I suppose Andy Cuomo rode up on one of those big, new 4-cycle machines; was it a model that matches the National Park Service report that produces more pollution than the 2006 models?

  18. troutstalker says:

    Instead of wasting money on something of great magnitude, invest it on rebuilding route 28 and other infrastructures in the ADK. These have been bringing more people into the area than trains. As for bikes, that is the last thing I want to see in a wilderness setting!

  19. Adk Taxpayer says:

    Ok, so I’ve been reading and watching this debate with much interest and humor and yes I am a rail fan, and former employee of the ARPS/ASR. Twenty years ago when ARPS was beginning to plan how to rehab the line it was estimated that it would cost roughly 7 million dollars to bring the line between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake up to Class I track (up to 10 MPH). In the 20 years since I am sure that that number has increased exponentially.
    Now any plan to convert the rail bed to a trail is going to have similar numbers associated with it. The idea that the project will be paid for entirely by the sale of the rail and ties as scrap is pure folly. I am sure that a small percentage of the cost can be realized but complete costs, never. Who’s going to pick up the balance of that tab?? Now I’m not as much of a numbers man as is Mr. Lubic is but I do understand what it costs to build things.
    So here is my concern… ARPS currently holds a contract with the NYSDOT for the management and maintenance of the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor and yes they do receive a stipend from the State for that purpose. Now since I haven’t worked for ARPS in nearly 17/18 years I no longer have a handle on what that number is but I am sure that the railroad still contributes more money to the maintenance of the corridor than the State pays them. So once the tracks are removed who is going to be charged with the maintenance of this new trail?? I can tell you that there are literally hundreds of culverts between here and Lake Placid and somewhere around a dozen bridges. Who is going to do the maintenance and engineering on those structures and keep the culverts clear from beaver dams so that they don’t wash out?? Who is going to be charged with clearing brush and keeping the weeds down to a sufficient level for the DEC and DOT?? These are all annual costs that are financed by ARPS. Granted some of these costs are reimbursed by the State but not all….
    Now ARTA and their supporters have been very vocal, as somebody said earlier in the stream here has mentioned about how the railroad is abusing our tax dollars, which is completely not true, what I want to know is what is their plan for the management and maintenance of their “Trail” once its built?? How are monies going to be generated for its maintenance?? Or is the plan to make the State pay for it all since it is the “States” property?? If it is how much is that going to add to our tax bills??