Thursday, August 10, 2017

Field Work Begins In Controversial Adirondack Rail Corridor

Draft Adirondack Rail Trail PlanWork to develop the final design and construction plan for the Adirondack Rail Trail began in the rail corridor between Tupper and Lake Placid this week.

DEC announced that “that personnel involved in developing the final design and construction plan for the Adirondack Rail Trail will be working in the corridor,” starting Monday, “for periods of times at various locations over the two months doing various work.”  More specific schedules are expected to provided to adjacent landowners via notification letters in the coming weeks.

Personnel from DEC, Creighton Manning, and other consultants are expected to be in the rail corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid “assessing, investigating, and surveying infrastructure, natural areas, and other places in the corridor to prepare for permitting, designing, and constructing the multi-use trail. The work will be undertaken over the next many weeks and includes, but is not limited to engineering surveys, wetland delineations, geotechnical explorations, and property boundary survey.”  The historic railroad transportation corridor remains the subject of ongoing litigation.

The rest of DEC’s announcement follows:

In late April, DEC released a Draft Adirondack Rail Trail Conceptual Plan outlining the general design and features of the future 34-mile, multi-use recreational trail on the bed of the former railway. Information about the plan was provided at four informational meetings, two availability sessions, and two public meetings during the month of May. Public comment was provided verbally at the two public meetings and in writing via letters and emails.

DEC is finalizing the response to public comment including providing comments relevant to the final design of the trail to Creighton Manning, the firm hired to design and oversee the construction of the trail.

In May 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the final plan to govern the use of the 119-mile travel corridor from Remsen to Lake Placid. The final plan, incorporated into an amendment to the Remsen Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan signed by DEC and the Department of Transportation (DOT), describes the means to maximize the future use and economic benefits of the corridor. The plan calls for DEC to manage the design, construction, and operation of the 34-mile recreational trail.

Since late summer, a stakeholder group has been working to inform the development of a conceptual design and operation plan for the trail. The stakeholder group is comprised of elected officials or their delegated representatives from the three villages and four towns along the corridor, DEC, Office of General Services, Adirondack Park Agency officials, ROOST, and local representatives from the biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling communities.

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25 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Aren’t the “property boundary surveys” done? Are there some more surprises in store?

  2. Paul says:

    Also, wasn’t the plan for a RR expansion from Tupper to the southern end? Is the state only expending funds on the trail at this time?

    • Ben says:

      Rail work going south won’t happen until a new Rail Operator is found to manage the line from Utica to Tupper Lake. So the state needs to do a RFP & put it out. I doubt the state will do anything related to the tracks south of Tupper Lake until the court case is settled. And then again, if the judge rules against the state I wouldn’t hold my breath out for any state action on any future rail expansion north of Big Moose. Me doth think the state will dig it’s heels in & not do anything else & that includes any further expansion under the old option 6.

      • James Falcsik says:

        Why do you think the state will be vindictive against the current railroad operator if Judge Main rules against NYS? Because you would be? We can assume Alternate 7 will proceed if the decision favors NYS-DEC, but what if the ruling favors ASR? It means the state did not follow the due process of the law, and it may also reveal the DEC did not do their homework if other land parcels are found to be easements that will revert to land owners if the rails are pulled. Then what? A do-over? A realization that it will cost millions more to build a trail (to buy land) and delay for many more years? A ruling against the state would only block the 34 mile trail development, not the rebuilding of the line from Big Moose to Tupper Lake, especially if the funds have been appropriated. In the event of an RFP for a rail operator, ASR would still be in a good position to be awarded the contract.

    • Drew says:

      The rail section has been undergoing tree and brush removal since the early spring. They have almost completed the work. They have cut done 1000’s of trees. But the rails are in bad shape. I was talking to one of the crews. They have derailed over 120 times this summer.

      • Boreas says:

        Yikes!! Does anyone have ballpark figures for how long it will take and how much it will cost to bring this neglected segment up to safety standards for an excursion train?

        • Howard says:

          Probably more than the state is willing to pay on its own. According to the updated Option 7 being held up in court, the state has to put out a RFP for a rail manager to come in & operate the tracks between Utica & Tupper Lake. Plus that company has to bring $$ to the table also. So either way, don’t expect the sate to do anything between Big Moose & Tupper Lake in the short term. If the state loose the court case, I’d be surprised if they do any thing.

  3. Boreas says:

    I can’t figure out what is delaying the court ruling for so long.

    • Paul says:

      Just wait for the appeals!

      I love this quote:

      “for periods of times at various locations over the two months doing various work.”

      Only the state could get away with such a statement. “doing various work” – what?

      What are we paying for exactly?

      • Dan says:

        It’s in the article:
        “assessing, investigating, and surveying infrastructure, natural areas, and other places in the corridor to prepare for permitting, designing, and constructing the multi-use trail. The work will be undertaken over the next many weeks and includes, but is not limited to engineering surveys, wetland delineations, geotechnical explorations, and property boundary survey.”

        It’s all the pre-work that has to happen before they start deconstruction/construction.

        • Paul says:

          Dan, my comment was a joke on the vague statement. I thought it was pretty funny how it was written.

          Hasn’t all this been done in the planning for a rail trail? If there are additional issues with property boundaries isn’t that yet another problem. Engineering survey? Hasn’t that been done prior to the decision to go forward. This all sounds like they don’t have it figured out yet?

      • James Falcsik says:

        You are going to pay for everything; engineering, survey, environmental compliance, possible land acquisition, construction, maintenance, police protection, rescue, etc.. Now and in the future as far as you can see. Remember, the trail plan was sold to the communities with the statement “it will be free”.

        • Walter Ordway says:

          Yep, and the railroad “milks taxpayer dollars by being subsidized by the State” (fact check: it’s *not* subsidized).

          But have facts ever mattered in this whole mess? Nope. Remember….the main contributor/spearheader claimed that millions of dollars of revenue will be generated by this trail. MILLIONS.

          You can only shovel **** so much before people start to smell it.

          • Boreas says:

            Because of the lawsuit, communities along the 34 mile route currently have no revenue from either rail or trail. They can’t even plan potential business opportunities. Until it is settled and the communities can bank on one scenario or the other, they are the big losers here.

            • Howard says:

              That may be true, but then again, if the railroad nut jobs didn’t sue the state, we’d be well on our way to having a active used TRAIL!

              • James Falcsik says:

                The railroad sued the state because they did not follow due process and the guidelines of the law. The communities are suffering economic loss because the trail boosters lied about the cost, the expected economic return, and time frame for creating a trail. As you stoop low and resort to name calling, the “nut jobs” to use your term, better describe those who chose to purposely mislead the communities with a plan to destroy a commercial asset for a costly dirt path that will forever cost the citizens tax dollars for little or no meaningful economic results.

                • howard says:

                  commercial asset my ass!

                  • James Falcsik says:

                    So you don’t respect more than $8 million in regional economic impact from the rail operations to the benefit of the business communities where the railroad venues operated? It seems they may be missing it in your area and that is a pretty good indication of the commercial value.

              • Boreas says:


                My point exactly. Although I wouldn’t call the people that brought the lawsuit “nut jobs”, I do feel they are responsible for the current lack of work on the trail. The state’s plan may have had some legal flaws, but the communities involved didn’t file the suit. Shouldn’t they be a major stakeholder here?

                • James Falcsik says:

                  Boreas, you seem to want to place blame on ARPS for the lawsuit, which they clearly filed and had a right to. But didn’t your community leaders buy in hook line and sinker on the baloney trail plan being “free” and accept all “economic boon” hype? Are they not somewhat responsible too? They assisted where things are today, especially fellows like Shapiro and Thompson who stand to make great financial gain from the plan to the demise of existing business owners who benefited from the rail venues. There is plenty of blame to go around. You could have had an operating railroad, a rail-bike recreation venue, and trail segments built in many areas where all this compliments each other. All stuff that has been debated at length…..but right now…you and others point to ARPS as a villain. Who will you blame in a few years when the legal issues are but a memory and the economy is status quo?

                  • Boreas says:


                    You are correct. I am blaming ARPS for filing the suit, which was absolutely their right – and their choice. Any direct positive or negative fallout resulting from the suit should be their responsibility. I don’t feel ARPS are “villains”, but certainly are a key factor in holding up the project.

                    The people that bought into the State’s compromise plan did so simply because they felt it was the the most feasible and workable option. We are grown-ups and most are able to see past the rhetoric of a “free” trail as just part of the noise coming from both sides of the issue. Everybody gets something. Whether they were right or wrong remains to be seen. We are all responsible for our actions.

                    However I believe your ability to peer into the future and totally discredit the trail section of the compromise plan is a little disingenuous. If no one uses it, you will be correct, but I don’t see that as a possibility. Some sections will be used more than others, but ANY use is better than what we have now. It will certainly cost the state, counties, and communities some money for maintenance, promotion, etc. – no one believes it will be free – no more than a town park is free. But many of us do not share your gloomy outlook for the tangible and intangible benefits of a 34 mile, inter-community recreation trail. There are aspects of the project that one can’t put a dollar figure on.

                    • howard says:

                      amen Boreas!

                    • James Falcsik says:

                      Boreas; my ability to look into the future is no better than anyone else. I see the results, or lack of results, after 30 years of extant trails at home. I do not dispute there will be users, but you and I have debated before to clarify what kind of user creates economic results. The intangible benefits for you personally may be relaxation or whatever suits you, from using a trail, and hopefully you will enjoy something from it if it gets built. If I look up this thread, your earlier statement was about the lack or revenue from either rail operations or trail use, which is where my comments were directed. I agree with your statement above comparing the cost of the trail to a town park; and usually people do not associate a town park as a regional economic generator. I suppose we can agree that is yet to be determined.

  4. Ben says:

    And who do you think pays for all the crap the ASR needs to run/maintain the rail line. NOT ASR! They barely survive now.

    • James Falcsik says:

      NYS pays the Adirondack Scenic Railroad to maintain the corridor as a railroad. No problem there. No different than any other contractor NYS pays to plow roads, replace lamps in the lights at the intersections of state roads, etc. NYS is in effect preserving this transportation asset from returning to nature.

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