Thursday, November 6, 2014

Train Supporters Stand By Rails-With-Trails Option

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)Supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad continue to insist, contrary to assertions by state officials, that it’s possible to keep the tracks and build trails in and out of the 34-mile rail corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

The Trails with Rails Action Committee (TRAC) has prepared maps and engineer’s drawings showing where trails could be located within the corridor and, where that’s not feasible, where spur trails could be built that leave and re-enter the corridor. The map of TRAC’s proposed trails and sample engineer’s drawings can be found on the group’s website.

TRAC members will be attending public meetings in Tupper Lake and Lake Placid today and tomorrow to discuss their ideas with state officials and the media. (Prepared remarks of two members can also be found on the group’s website.)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation will host the meetings at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake from 6-8 p.m. today and at the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid from 1-3 p.m. tomorrow.

DEC and DOT have proposed replacing the tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid with a recreational trail that could be used by snowmobilers in winter and bicyclists in other seasons. The departments also propose fixing up the tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which runs tourist trains out of Old Forge and Lake Placid, argues for keeping the tracks along the entire 70 miles between Big Moose and Placid.

Wayne Tucker, a member of the ASR board, also contends that rails-with-trails is a viable option. We recently emailed him a list of questions about the rail corridor. The questions are show below in bold, followed by his answers.

DOT estimates that rehabbing the tracks will cost $200,000 to $250,000 a mile (depending on the segment) for a total cost of $17.7 million to repair the tracks between Big Moose and Lake Placid. This seems pretty close to the Stone Consulting estimate, but do you have any quarrels with it?

No, we have no quarrel with the DOT estimate for rehabbing the tracks. It’s slightly higher than the Stone Consulting estimate, but we attribute that to the increased cost of railroad ties. Our most recent project (Big Moose to Carter) seemed to confirm that.

DOT estimates that putting in a trail between Big Moose and Lake Placid would cost $21.2 million. ARTA contends this figure is inflated. What are your thoughts?

Again, we feel that DOT did their homework based on recent projects that Parks & Recreation Dept. have completed, and see no reason to dispute it. Similar projects with only an 8-foot-wide trail bed have equated to approx. $300,000 per mile.

The Iron Horse Preservation Society says it could build the trail for free, using revenue from steel salvage. Do you think this is realistic?

We most definitely don’t “buy” the Iron Horse Preservation Society estimate. Salvage experts have indicated to us that these 39-foot-long rails would have to be cut up and melted, and just the transportation to that final site would be costly. In addition, the ties disposal is pegged at $9.00 per tie, and there are probably 200,000 ties to be removed and disposed of as hazardous material (creosote soaked).

DOT and DEC say a side-by-side trail running the full length of the corridor is not feasible, for a number of reasons. Do you dispute this?

No, we don’t dispute that. To my knowledge, we have never touted a side-by-side trail running the full length of the corridor. Rather we have followed the original 1996 UMP recommendation of a combination of parallel trails where feasible, and connecting spurs where space or environment create limitations. The added attraction of the spurs is that it will put adjacent communities in physical touch with both Rail and Trail opportunities.

The state also says building spur trails that leave and re-enter the corridor is not feasible. Officials say it might be possible to build hiking trails that leave and re-enter, but these would not be usable by road and hybrid bikes (and road biking is one of the rationales for the rail trail). They also point out that the corridor passes through Wilderness Areas where biking is not allowed. How do you answer the state’s claim that spur trails are not an option?

We suggest that the state has not had time nor inclination to closely examine the detailed engineered drawings that have been researched and drawn in detail by volunteers from the TRAC group, in conjunction with in-depth field work provided by engineering aspects of our staff and Board, and also aided by local DEC Forester(s) and APA staff. These drawings detail every tenth of a mile of rail bed from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, and make suggestions as to the most prudent method of construction to conform to the individual locations and terrain. Initially over-looked by state personnel, some of those same personnel that have now looked at them in-depth are over whelmed by the simplicity of the solutions that existed right under their noses, and they are now reconsidering their original positions upon finding out that these connecting spurs are already built and in use for multiple years. It behooves us to reintroduce these facts to all those in charge.

If a parallel trail and spur trails are not feasible, is there another rails-with-trails option that I am overlooking?

You are not overlooking any other Rails with Trails solution, but in fact you are inadvertently overlooking the original 1996 proposed solution because of the state’s false contention that Parallel and spur trails are not feasible. In fact, they are a Win-Win situation for all three parties (Rail, Trail, & State). The Rail advocates would still have their historic corridor and increased customer base, the Trail advocates would also have trail access with the train available to take them to varied spots of egress for their biking or hiking interests, and the state completes the win-win scenario with the revenue created by the economic impact of these taxpaying recreationists. Not only is the Rails with Trails feasible for all the end users, including the handicapped or mobility impaired, but also appears to be the most cost effective solution proffered by all parties, as well as the shortest time frame to implement. To conclude otherwise is tantamount to sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the obvious.

If the tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid are removed (as envisioned by state’s proposal), would ASR extend service from Old Forge to Tupper Lake? Do you see much demand for people taking the trail to Tupper? What kind of service do you envision?

Yes, in the event the state kills the tracks from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, there are a myriad of vendors looking to create bundled destination packages to venues in Tupper Lake, with trains emanating from Utica and Old Forge. Although there’s no question Lake Placid is the choice destination of both New York State residents, as well as those nation-wide vacationers who would link to ASR via Amtrak’s national network of train routes, those same packaged entrepreneurs will make do with all the new services hitting Tupper Lake area (expanded Wild Ctr., expanded Woodsmen Days, Tin-Man, Condo functions, Next Stop Train Station, renovated downtown, increased boating venues, etc. ) In 25 years, Tupper Lake could be the next Lake Placid.

How many paying customers used the Lake Placid train last year? How many used the Old Forge train?

Approx. 16,000 customers used the Lake Placid/Saranac Lake train this season just ended, which is a slight increase over last year, and yet we started one month later this year on our “North End” because of logistic delays. The Utica to Old Forge (Thendara) route typically has about 58,000 customers per season.

If the train is extended to Tupper, how many additional customers do you anticipate? What if it were extended all the way to Lake Placid?

We would love to garner 200,000 riders from Utica to Tupper Lake, as the state projects, but that figure is probably more accurate only if we had Lake Placid as a final destination. Whereas the state projects 70,000 bike/hike enthusiasts, the utopian answer is the win-win scenario of Rails with Trails, which should bring 270,000 additional users.

Do you have anything you’d like to add about the state’s proposal, the state’s presentation, or anything at all about the debate over the rail corridor?

As to what is not brought up by the current proposals is the folly that bike riders or hikers will utilize these long stretches of uninhabited corridor, with no services available to the users, including the absence of cell phone service. Who will monitor the trail daily for people who break down on a 70 mile ride, not to mention the return trip after exhausting yourself on the way out. As a long time tandem bike enthusiast, we only do Century rides on rare occasions. The typical recreational ride is a leisurely 2 hours covering 25 miles, including a break. The longer isolated stretches would be for Iron Man candidates only, and I can’t see them spending big bucks with any vendors. When is the last time you saw bikers carrying shopping bags filled with merchant goods back to their bikes, the way train riders do?. Why not combine the best of both worlds?


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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.

39 Responses

  1. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    After the initial Q&A, I asked Mr. Tucker if the spur trails would accommodate road bikes. Here is his reply:

    “The trails, as they exist now, would only support hikers and mountain bikes. However, DEC trail experts, while working with our field survey experts, have indicated DEC would expand those spur trails to 6’ wide to accommodate X-country skiers, snowshoes, and hybrid bikes. At present, I don’t think they would commit to road bike capability.”

  2. Hope says:

    Are these trails to be used by snowmobiles also?

    • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

      That’s question I neglected to ask. Perhaps one of the rail supporters can answer it. I imagine the trails could be widened to accommodate snowmobiles in Wild Forest Areas. I don’t know what the implications would be for the cap on snowmobile trails.

      • Jim McCulley says:

        6 foot wide does not accommodate snowmobiles.

      • Hope says:

        Well it is a key provision of the Rail Trail proposed by ARTA. In discussion with NYSSA representatives and others, the Travel Corridor is the main snowmobile artery that connects all other snowmobile trails. There are restrictions, as you pointed out, to mileage that can be added in the forest preserve as a whole. Also, there is still disagreement as too what constitutes a snowmobile trail and how it can be maintained. The Travel Corridor allows track style groomers to keep the snowmobile trail in good condition. Tracked groomers cannot be used in Wild Forest unless they are on an existing road that is designated a snowmobile trail in the winter.

  3. Jim McCulley says:

    The track improvements will only bring these tracks to Class II standards 25 mph. They have promised every town along the way a stop where people will have time to get off and shop. This will have to be a 24 hour 1 way trip.
    Why would you build additional trails when current operations can not sustain themselves? They take around $51,000 per year of the states maintenance grant to pay for their operations. They have never finished a year with $50,000.00 in the bank. The state can’t give them any more than a month to month lease due to their notice of ability to continue.
    The 16,000 rider claim is another bogus number. They count each direction the same passengers so cut it down to 8000. They need to say how many are paying riders. The historical society and schools are riding for free yet they count them as real customers.
    The states claim of 210,000 riders based on a Cuyahoga Valley Railroad is a joke. Cuyahoga starts in Cleveland with a population in the surrounding county’s of 2.9 million verse 68,000 in Utica and western NY is becoming depopulated.
    Show us paid ticket sales. Your own study said going to Lake Placid would only garner 7,000 new riders. If this is such a good idea go to a bank and borrow the funds and rehab the tracks yourself.

    • James Falcsik says:

      Wow Jim, folks could say the same thing about the trail. If it is going to generate so much in the way of a “trail economy” then your group should do the same on some of the existing trails and former railroad lines, of which there are plenty.

      Your complaint about taxpayer funds is really something when your proposed trail will cost the community millions for years to come. ASR is a non-profit 501c3 operation; they will never show a profit and they are not supposed to.

      Your trail user number will suffer the same problem from lack of population base because most are local users. That is why your community should not limit their opportunities and do the best they can at having both rail and trail.

      The 7000 new visitors is nevertheless more than the accurate comparable overnight stays of the similar Virginia Creeper Trail your directors write about, with clearly documented bogus numbers, if that is where you want to go.

      • Durk Diggler says:

        Who wants to hike/bike a trail next to some unsafe, smelly, ugly old train tracks?

      • Jim McCulley says:

        Maybe you are missing something this is the only line that connects the southern Adirondacks to the northern Adirondacks. According to ROOST marketing the Adirondacks as a whole instead of separate regions will drive future tourist dollars to the region. What better way than a trail that is easily used by anyone to create this synergy.

        Jim we already have spent 35 million dollars resurrecting something that failed twice in the last 50 years. Yes they are a non profit that has been running for 20 years with the state kicking in operational cost. Because their ticket sales do not cover operations nor the expense of track maintenance. They are $100,000 in debt to board members and have decreasing ridership and fewer operations from 2012. Not a good sign when they want another 11 million and their auditors said they are on the verge of closing.
        The lack of population base in the Adirondacks is made up for by the draw of the Adirondacks. We have millions of visitors every year that come but not to ride a train. When you can advertise a easily bike able and hike able trail with nothing more than a 2% grade for 90 miles. We will have many more visitors. Many of those visitors will come in the winter time for snowmobiling. A time of year when 55% of the business close in the Adirondacks. The period of time that will truly help. Instead of a summer railroad that’s rated on Trip advisor attractions #22 of 22.
        The 7000 you speak of is based on the Stone consulting study paid for by ANCA. Unfortunately even that number is skewed by double counting. And the passenger numbers they gave to Stone. They were inflated by 25% compared to the numbers they gave to the Federal Railway Administration for the same years. Of course none of these numbers give actual paid ridership. Also you might want to read their economic impact study it says they do not create an overnight stay.

        • James Falcsik says:

          Jim; I understand the importance of the corridor, and the prized commodity in the Adirondacks is the tourist. And I will agree marketing is the key to promoting the region; but we will continue to disagree on the best way to achieve that economic goal.

          Let’s air a few things out here; think of us each as sitting at a table having a beer. The approach you and ARTA have taken is to make the ASR, its employees, volunteers, and railroad supporters as the villains. ASR was hired by the state 20+ years ago to operate a tourist railroad. If ASR would fold up, the state should hire another railroad operator to continue the mandate of the 1996 UMP. The state of New York, just like PA, NJ, MA, etc. puts money into public infrastructure; roads, highways, locks & dams, airports, sports arenas, etc. These expenditures benefit the community. Your area needs tourists; well a tourist railroad is provided by the State of New York.

          All of those mentioned features are meaningless and worthless if private investment does not develop to make use of those tools. Private investment will not occur to full potential without the state making good on the original promise to rebuild the railroad and improve its efficiency with a good roadway.

          Your attack on ASR using their tax returns is disingenuous. You know Wayne Tucker answered each of your points with the rest of the financial determinations by their auditors as satisfactory. You have taken each of their initial concerns out of context, as though they still exist. Using excerpts of the auditor’s report and writing about it as a news feature, without the follow up comments after correction is a low-blow.

          If ASR has dedicated people willing to invest in their operation, under legal contract means, why does that concern you? Would you feel better if a bank loaned them the same amount? Many small businesses in this country have loan payments for capital investment. Back in 1958 when the Strasburg Railroad was reorganized and was ready to run their gasoline powered antique switcher engine for the first run, all the Vice Presidents (every investor) emptied their pockets to buy enough gas to fill the tank in the engine. From that humble beginning Strasburg today draws 340K visitors every year.

          • jim McCulley says:

            I think the volunteers for the railroad are great people. I don’t think realize the position the ASR is in financially. And many would rather save the ASR by just running Utica to Old Forge. Then to extend farther and lose more money and eventually close.

            Private investment will not occur unless there is a profit to be made. Hence there is no private money paying for track repair on this corridor. Public spending should have the same calculation. A return on investment. Currently the ASR may be qualifying with that endeavor between Utica and Remsen. But the amounts being spent on this corridor for the riders that use it are not even close to the value of tax dollars spent.

            My analysis of the ASR’s tax return was right on the money. You consider it an attack because you don’t like the facts it points too. Like after numbering tickets $160,000 in additional revenue suddenly appear with just 4,000 ne riders (really 2,000). The auditor’s notice of ability to continue means they can’t borrow money and DOT cannot give them a long term permit. (if the tracks are expanded there will have to be another operator) Yes they claim that they resolved all of their issues. But they say that every time their tax returns are finally released to the public (for 2013 it will be released in 2015)so they can claim upon examination that it’s old news. Just like they always do.

            That’s fine they have people willing to invest in the ASR. But don’t claim at the same time your financially stable and profitable while borrowing in $500.00 increments from board members. Don’t claim that operations pay your bills. Since 2009 every year the ASR has used on average of $51,000 of the states grant to them to operate. They finished none of those years with $50,000.00 in the bank.

            We will obviously disagree that’s fine.

        • James Falcsik says:

          Jim; I understand your vision of having a rail-trail as a calling card, an attraction, something people will consider a destination feature. Well for some, a small percentage, that may be true. But for the large majority of people that come to the Adirondacks that will not be the case. Ten million visitors come now, already, without this rail-trail, and despite the railroad. You will need 1 million more people, with their only express purpose of visiting, is coming to see the trail, for you to have a 10% increase toward economic growth. That is way more of an expectation than any of the established trails anywhere in the eastern United States. Like everywhere else, your trail is likely to be patronized mostly by local users who live 5 -10 miles away. We don’t have the unique beauty of the Adirondack Park in western PA, but we do have the population. Jim, the development as promoted by the RTC does not exist along these trails.

          I hear your passion for snowmobiling. If I understand snowmobile registration density, of the 116,000 sled registrations, about 30% come from zip codes in the Adirondack Park. That is 34,800 to use round numbers. Your peak day in Big Moose last season was 610 sleds. Your local people do not even generate that much ridership on the corridor. I think you and I are on the same page concerning climate change, but if you have a few years of low snow, or no snow, your winter economy is zero. And if the environmentalists are half right, a snow-based economy is not sustainable. That’s too many eggs in one basket. Diversification with rail and trail complimenting each other is what your area needs to do as difficult as it may be.

          • jim McCulley says:

            So your telling me that with 10 million people visiting the Adirondacks (estimated7-10 million) the ASR is only hauling 36,000 (14,000 of those are on the Polar express) riders per year? That’s pathetic. But lets go with your though. There’s 84 million people with in driving distance of the Adirondacks. 27 million Americans take their bikes on vacation with them. seems like a whole lot of potential.
            You can’t compare trials with tracks on them verse where there are no tracks. Many people will not even ride this trail because of the tracks. You claim about registrations is correct they go up they go down. The telling story is Old forge is the #1 sales tax collector for Herkimer County. Biggest dates December 20th to March 20th. That says it all. We need business in the winter time not during the summer when most of those 7-10 million are already here and the ASR is just another miniature golf course.

            • James Falcsik says:

              Come on Jim; ASR ridership is not optimum with a disconnected operation. Same thing applies the to RR with a continuous corridor; marketing opportunities increase. Where are you going to put 27 million cars when you can’t drive from LP to SL without a traffic jam? You can fill the parking lots in Utica and keep the cars off the AP roads and your hoteliers can provide destination packages. You guys look to the railroad to do all the work; it is a tool for tourism. Businesses should partner with ASR to improve tourism opportunities. It is a Green transportation method, low carbon footprint, etc.

              I know I won’t change your mind. Do you need another beer yet?

            • David Lubic says:

              Snowmobile registrations are down 33% in the last 10 years. Snowmobile sales nationwide are down 50% in the last 10 years, and an amazing 66% in the last 16 years.

              The economic impact, as measured in a study commissioned by the New York Snowmobile Association as amounting to over $860 million, was based on information from 2010-2011. The registrations have declined 13% just since then, and that means the economic impact will likely have declined, too.

              In view of all this, where is the growth in snowmobile economic benefit to come from, when there aren’t as many snowmobiles as there were before?

              I think the snowmobile trade will be the same as it is now, with or without the railroad, so why bother with it at all?

      • AdkBuddy says:

        Here is an excerpt from your commentary in today’s Enterprise
        “My question is, why would the business community in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid be satisfied with the potential of 200,000 ASR riders stopping 34 miles away in Tupper Lake? The natural end point of rail operations is the commercial center of Lake Placid, as identified by Paul Titterton in a recent Albany Times Union commentary. Plans for the development of a destination resort in Tupper Lake will surely benefit the regional economy and provide many creative options for travel and lodging packages that will be possible with a revitalized railroad asset. If the active rail corridor remains intact between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, those creative options could also enhance business in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid as well.”
        I suspect there is no concern from the businesses in SL or LP because many of them probably agree that the DOT number of 200,000 is bogus.

        • James Falcsik says:

          Thanks for reading it today ADkBuddy. If they think the DOT numbers are “bogus”, where are they going to get “real numbers”? From you? Or the study ARTA paid the RTC to do for them? The owner of a B&B thinking about a loan for a couple extra rooms does need to do some research about who to believe, or example trail economies elsewhere.

          What if the DOT numbers are off by 50%? 100K on the train is still a good number. What if you listen to Dick Beamish and his numbers are off 1700 percent? Do you get that loan? And that actually happened!

          Keep in mind you can’t compare what you see now, for what might be later with a rebuilt line all the way up the corridor. All the speculation on both sides has one thing in common; it is all guess work. How about looking at some real data? Connellsville, PA, on the Great Allegheny Passage. 2000 to 2010, population loss 17.1%. Income growth 12% less than the state average. The trail economy is doing great for them, wouldn’t you say?

        • Hope says:

          DOT admitted in Lake Placid that they did not mean that they thought ASR would be able to do those numbers but that the railroad could have a similar type of operation.
          They also back tracked on the Wild and Scenic River law issue they had been promoting, that indicated the tracks couldn’t be put back once they were gone.
          It’s too bad they don’t know how to do a public information piece without trying to slant it in they way they want it to go. Does the DOT/DEC not think that either side is going to research and defend or decry their points. Comments to me as well as my colleagues, from others in attendance, indicate that they feel the decision has been made, this is it, and NYS is just going thru the motions.

          • James Falcsik says:

            Hope, you and I finally have something to agree on. I also think the NYDOT had a pretty good idea of what you were going to get, before any of the hearings. Going through the motions; I hear you.

    • Big Burly says:

      The standards used by the Surface Transportation Board for running speeds have categories. Class II for passenger consists has a maximum speed of 40mph. When researching the historic timetables for train operations along this corridor when operated by the NY Central, max running speeds rarely ever exceeded 40mph.
      For a scenic rail operation like the ASR, why would you want to go faster? The essential premise of a scenic rail operation allows passengers to take in the truly marvelous scenery of our region.
      Gov’t regs about how to count passengers is not an issue that ASR has a say about — this, as with many other points you raise is a canard.
      NYS owns this corridor and the tracks. Landlords are responsible for maintenance, when renting a house or apartment, or a rail line. It is normal course of business to reimburse your tenant for such expenses incurred.
      Operating costs for fuel, paid services, equipment maintenance are covered by passenger revenues according to the ASR. This is a not for profit business.
      As a casual observer the recent vitriol from ARTA leaders that is so dismissive of the findings of the very professional people who work for DOT and DEC cannot be helpful to that cause.

      • Jim McCulley says:

        You would want to go faster because they have promised every community along the way that people are going to stop and use their business. The tourist train business model is no longer than 1.5 hours or the public tires of it. Why do you think that have to have a bandit train a clown train and a magic train? To keep l children occupied on just a 45 minute ride. If you have to count the same person twice to make it look like your busy it’s hardly a canard. It’s your ox being gored.
        DOT is not the landlord and the ASR is not the tenant. They are a permitted use and the Permit is very clear on that point they are not a tenant. Add to that the permit states ASR is to pay for all repairs and operation and you have a permit holder in default of their obligations. ASR is not telling the truth go to their tax returns like I have and read them. The amount of the state grant is always around $50,000 more than they spend on maintenance of the way. Pointing out where DOT failed in their duties to provide all the facts may seem vitriolic to the casual observe. But this is a problem society faces today with people not wanting to hear facts. And even after reading them just ignoring them.

      • Tony Goodwin Tony Goodwin says:

        DOT has actually said that 25 mph is the top speed for passenger trains on Class II track. This link to the actual FRA regulations regarding track standards clearly says 30 mph. 49 CFR Part 213. The speeds are on page 104, unless someone says there is another place where different speeds are cited. Even if the train could run at 40 mph, which probably was the highest speed previously operated, it still makes no sense. There is little reason to believe that a 19th Century mode and speed of transport would have any relevance today over distances requiring a 6-1/2 hour ride – the time from the ASR business plan timetable.

    • JJ Young says:

      You intrigue me Jim. It is wonderful for you to state census information, but if the towns in the Adirondack’s had skiing areas, OH YEA! Lake Placid does, as well as an Olympic Village, you can add to the “TOURIST RIDERs” (forgot them Jim?.
      During the Fall season you add Autumn specials and also find ways to operate short dinner trains as well from the Olympic area.
      Yes you can run a local to pick up riders from town to town and work with each community to add a stop over allowing tourist funds to trickle into their economies as well.
      And Jim, lets look at the idea of a rails to trails… You can get a variance by State Officials to utilize part of the states land to add to the trail along the route. This would be the win, win scenario. Hikers and trail walkers could chose a location and hike the entire Adirondack trail and leave at any time the train arrives. also they are the eyes along the route for injured hikers, or those that wish to end the journey.
      If the group would quit looking through blinders and look over the entire scope of this, they could…NO, would see the value to operating both as a tourist destination in up State New York and the addition to the coffers from tourist dollars.
      One last bit, if it takes that long to transverse the railroad, how long is it for skiers, hikers and bikers to do the same? You waste a lot of space and look at the over all cost of operating the trails, security, cleaning, maintenance. There is no money coming in directly from the trails to cover this, therefore the towns and State would, where as now the railroad pays for the lease and taxes.
      I hope you have a better insight to the plus side of the two running side by side. I reiterate, look at the Cumberland Scenic in Cumberland Md. they work side by side and here too, they wanted to remove the railroad and now look at it…

  4. Paul says:

    Sometimes even if an idea is feasible or doable (rails w/ trails may not be either) it can still be a bad idea. This rail with a trail just doesn’t seem to make sense. The trail going all over the place and riders and hikers next to a train I don’t like it. At this point I don’t support a rail to trail but I don’t think this is any kind of solution that would keep everyone happy either.

  5. I like the plan. It won’t make snowmobilers happy but I’m not in favor of depriving others some that some can drive noisy machines over the snow.

    • Hope says:

      No, you would rather they start using trails that have been traditionally used by cross country skiers instead. Let’s keep the snowmobilers on the corridor. That is where they want to be.

  6. Dave says:

    Interesting, The TL Free Press which came out yesterday has no mention of the public meeting at the Wild Center for tonight. You’d think the publisher, who is big on the rails with side by side trails, would want all the support he can get for that idea. Maybe he doesn’t want the meeting to be publicized hoping the trail only proponents won’t show up?

  7. Dave says:

    Just looked at the TL Free Press again, there was one letter to the editor from a Trail supporter but the publisher buried it on page 9 in the sports section. all the other letters to the editor are on the editorial page, Pg 4. Publisher must be afraid of Trail supporters showing up in bigger #s than Rail/Trail supporters.

    • AdkBuddy says:

      I think the TL Free Press is very afraid of the trail supporters. I find it interesting that many of the commentaries that are published in the Enterprise never find their way into the Free Press.

  8. Curt Austin says:

    I followed the link to the TRAC site, and could find no engineering drawings except the “Four sample drawings”, which are presented in an overlapped, miniature form. It does look like a great deal of effort was put into these drawings. Of course, it is not rocket science to devise a way to tack a bike trail alongside a railbed; it is not technically impossible.

    But that’s never been the argument, which is about the cost. This should be clear by viewing the elaborate structures shown in these drawings. The trail is literally tacked onto the side of some sections.

    Well, the argument does include the legal impossibility of a side-by-side configuration; hence, the spur sections. We’ll need to see the drawings of the tunnels and bridges that will make them suitable for casual cyclists.

    • Steve says:

      I went to the groups website hoping to see their plans. The lack of detail was glaring. They supposedly have detailed engineered drawings, why couldn’t they be put on their website in 2014?

      The map they has at such a small scale, you can’t tell if they are credible. The only section I know about is questionable. The section between lake Colby and lake Clear is dubious. The part labeled 11 which would have a new trail built next to the rail goes through wetlands where there’s no room for a trail. They have lots of picture of other rails with trails . I notice none of their pictures included large wetlands like we have.

  9. Scott van Laer Scott van Laer says:

    What are the impacts of the Herbicide used for rail maintenance? Would herbicide also be used if it was just a trail? What are the impacts of creosote leaching?

  10. Tony Goodwin Tony Goodwin says:

    I agree that the TRAC trail proposal lacks detail. The engineering drawings only serve to show that it is technically feasible to build a trail next to the rails. No estimate of the cost of these sometimes elaborate engineering solutions. The route of the trail was first proposed by Jack Drury in April. Here is a link to a better map of that proposal: (just copy and paste)

    Having spent a fair amount of time over the past few years seeing if there was a feasible route for the Jackrabbit Trail to extend from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake, I am familiar with all of that terrain except for the mostly private land between Rollins Pond and Tupper. I’ll spare you my lengthy analysis, but this alternate route does no even come close to duplicating what a trail on the Corridor without the tracks could be.

    Scott, with the rails removed there would not be any need for herbicide since ordinary highway maintenance equipment including the tractors with mowers that you see every year mowing the highway shoulders. I am not aware of any problems directly associated with creosote leaching from ties, and these things have been around for more than a century. Disposing of ties that can’t be reused (i.e. most of the ties on this part of the railroad) will be a problem, but there are burn plants certified to burn creosoted wood. Tie disposal will eat up a good chunk of the scrap value of the steel, but ARTA has good confidence from other rail trail conversions that there will be a net gain from rail removal and not a net loss as started by the DOT.

  11. Hope says:

    The trail will be able to be mowed along the sides and graded along the actual trail bed.

  12. Bruce says:

    If you listen to the glowing predictions from all sides, the Adirondacks will become a noticeably different place at all times of the year, no matter what is done, whether it be trail, rail, or some of both. Coming down to earth will result in a hard landing.

    The central Adirondacks peak season is July and August, people are here and the money is flowing. This just happens to coincide with school vacations in NY, which most likely will not change; school vacations haven’t changed materially since the 50’s. So, the key to increased prosperity is attracting visitors during the off season. Will a grand trail do that, or how about bigger and better rail excursions? If one believes the trails group or the rails group, either will do the trick. I’m not sure how the rails and trails concept might shake out, but I believe we need both to attract the widest cross-section of visitors in the off season.

    Some, me included, enjoy staying for a week just before or just after peak season, when the atmosphere is much quieter, and the weather is still amenable; we’re not tied to NY school vacation. The fact these times are much slower, demonstrates how subdued the Adirondacks are the other 10 months of the year, except on weekends. I watch the web cams put up by the Town of Webb, and one at Inlet. Snowmobilers are out in force on weekends with sufficient snow, and skiers are on McCauley Mt., but I would bet most of those live within a hundred miles, so they are really locals. And yes you have leaf watching season. Have these folks revitalized local communities? Perhaps some, but during the week the Fulton Chain is a pretty slow place.

    • Hope says:

      Old Forge will still have the train coming from Utica. No change there. The communities north of that are looking for a trail.

  13. roamin with broman says:

    It’s time for a trail. RR between Old Forge area and Placid needs to go away.

  14. Bruce says:

    Roamin, are you one of those folks who use trails rain or shine, or in foul winter weather? If so, you are probably to be congratulated. Take away the folks who don’t, and what do you have left, a handful of die hards? The best,most-used and economically beneficial trails are those in areas where they are actually used by a wide cross-section of folks for most of the year. Trains can run all year, and easily connect folks with shopping, eats, and good hotels. How much money will you leave behind in the communities along the way?

    You’ve already read the many reasons why a trail between Old Forge and Tupper lake is impractical, and do little for local economies. Now to be fair, if a Rail-Trail were worked in, that would be the best of both worlds.

    • Sam I am says:

      I am not sure this applies to you, but I have found it interesting that some folks can dismiss projections that a recreational trail would draw many users, while also advocating for spending tens of millions on a side by side rail with trail.

      I am also surprised that some people think bicyclists don’t like riding rail trails, claiming it would be boring dispite their obvious popularity elsewhere.