A state Supreme Court judge has ruled in favor of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society in its suit against the state to stop the removal of 34 miles of railroad tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid for the construction of a multi-use recreational trail.
Judge Robert Main issued a decision on Tuesday, saying that the state’s 2016 Unit Management Plan for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor violated the State Land Master Plan (SLMP), Adirondack Park Agency Act, and state historic laws.
Main said the State Land Master Plan defines travel corridors as places for automobile or railroad transportation, with no mention of recreational use.
The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, based in Utica, filed the Article 78 lawsuit against the APA, state Department of Environmental Conservation, and state Department of Transportation in April 2016.
Main also wrote that the state doesn’t own a half-mile portion of the corridor through NCCC in Saranac Lake and to the end of the corridor in Lake Placid. He said the state should have done a title review prior to amending the UMP and that the state should have known “that they did not possess fee title to the entire Remsem-Lake Placid Travel Corridor.”
The creation of the multi-use trail has been advocated by Adirondack Rail Trail Associates, which formed in 2010. ARTA has pushed for removing the tracks and establishing a recreational trail all the way from Lake Placid to Big Moose or Old Forge — up to 90 miles.
More details of this case can be found at Adirondack Explorer.
Photo of Adirondack Scenic Railroad by Susan Bibeau.
This round goes to ARPS! Let’s see what the administration serves up in the next round. Meanwhile…..much of the corridor is going unused and not being maintained. It’s a shame.
Blame the rail folks. The state could be working right now on improving the rails north to Tupper Lake while working on the trail going north from Tupper Lake, but no the ARPS had to sue. I don’t see anything moving on that part of the corridor for a long time, no mater how much the ARPS & ASR folks want to toot their horns!
Ben – just give it a rest for a moment, okay? Let me save you some trouble.
We can take it as given that you see nothing happening on the line, don’t think anything will ever happen on the line, that it’s waste of money to keep the tracks, and you can’t wait to have the state build you a few more miles of snowmobile playground – all the way to Utica.
Larry, he has just as much right as you do to speak his mind. Who are you to tell him to basically shut up? Really, you of all people on this forum. Get over yourself.
Hope – as usual you are jumping in without the whole story. Ben just posted a number of comments on the S&NC RR article also here at the Almanack.
If he wants to repeat himself here, he can do so – but it would be helpful if he had new points to raise. If you read his remarks, I think you may find that’s a fair summary of what he said. If he disagrees, he’s free to say so.
Considering how much time you’ve spent telling rail people to shut up and go away over the past five years, I find your concern more than a little self-serving. If you want me to get over myself, I would suggest you demonstrate how it’s done first.
Sorry, I’ve never told any to shut up and go away. I’ve disagreed with people plenty of times which of course you do as well. Prolifically. I would suggest that your comments on this subject in this forum have been more numererous, extensive, and arrogant than the entire ARTA board combined. I skip over most of them.
Thanks for demonstrating exactly what I’m talking about – the whole ARTA attitude is on display here.
I would remind you it was ARTA among others who thought it was perfectly fine to hold all the trail planning sessions behind closed doors with DEC while shutting out anyone who didn’t toe your line.
It’s a toss-up which is greater – your arrogance or your hypocrisy.
Sorry but it was DEC who determined the rules for the trail planning sessions not ARTA. That’s a fact. Not an opinion. DOT was also invited but choose to miss most sessions.
And whose orders was DEC following? Who ended up in the room? Who controlled what information was released to the public? Who said “Why would we want rail people at a trail meeting?” Who was allowed to participate by phone line (Cough, cough, Keet, cough, cough).
Sorry Hope. ARTA’s fingerprints are all over this and you own it. You can keep trying to spin this fiasco you helped create, or you can deal with it honestly.
ARTA was one of the stakeholders invited to participate by the DEC. Our board elected Mr. Keet to be our representative. Very proud to be apart of that board as well.
Hope, the only surprise would have been if ARTA was NOT at the table – since DEC based everything on ARTA trail plans. You can be as proud as you like to be an ARTA member – but you should be prepared to admit ARTA really got caught out by the court, and deservedly did.
You still haven’t answered my challenge about where you go from here. Are you going to continue to insist on continuing to try to destroy the railroad and prolonging a pointless fight, or are you going to turn your considerable talents and energy to working with it in the corridor?
Much of the planning you’ve done can be repurposed to work with the rails, so it’s not a complete waste. You should be focusing on solutions for those parts of the corridor where there’s no easy way to accommodate both as things are. Be prepared to fight for the money from the state to do it right – whether it’s building separate trail rights of way, extending bridges for trail users, or whatever works. There are some short sections where putting in a trail would be easy. Try building those so you actually have something to show for your efforts. Talk to TRAC; listen to ARPS – there’s a lot that can be done together.
And you should really read this: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-40293219
Larry, ARTA believes the APA can repair all the issues Judge Main has ruled against with a “tweak” or a “fix”. The corruption runs deep and the influence is thick. This won’t stop until the folks in the community say stop to those who wield the power and influence over the APA. A lot of comment here in support of the trail welcomes this kind of influence, but it renders moot all the good folks who work out of honesty and respect for the APA and the process to manage the AP. Judge Main called Alternate 7 self-serving and an effort to circumvent the law. The coming “tweaks” and “fixes” will be much of the same; to circumvent the law. The folks who look to the APA to properly manage and care for the Park should really be concerned.
If you want to put words in my mouth Larry at least get them right! As far as my overall thought on the entire issue, I would prefer a trail over the rail. If we cannot get the 2016 UMP working, nothing says we cannot implement a different option from the 1996 UMP. Cannot argue with that UMP since it’s been the UMP in use since 1996. The state has every right to choose a different option now from the 1996 UMP if they so choose. They can also just address the judges issues from the 2016 UMP update & just drive forward on the trail. As far as leaving the rails in place, the state can very easily declare the line north of Tupper lake as inoperable/retained for future use if necessary and then begin the process to see how a trail can be built. But then again the state will probably still screw everything up. The only things for certain right now are these things: The rails have to remain in place for now, no trains are moving north of Big Moose for a long while & the snowmobile community STILL HAS total use of the corridor beginning on 1 Dec. In the end you may someday get rail service to Lake Placid, but only during the summer/fall season because the DOT & snowmobile community will never let you have it during the winter!
Thank you Ben for toning down your rhetoric. I do not not believe you are correct about what the state can do, however. That arbitrary and capricious thing still applies.
Sorry to see people continue to portray this as a fight – “This round goes to the ARPS!”. But it certainly did devolve into one – too bad.
Too bad. All those chemicals sprayed along the tracks corridor will continue.
Ah – another version of chemtrails CT. Has anyone looked into possible birth defects and mental impairment caused by chronic exposure to snowmobile engine fumes?
I don’t know of studies concerning chronic snowmobile fumes. I do know that fifteen years ago or so when they started spraying herbicide along the rail corridor behind my house near Lake Clear that all the grasses and ferns and raspberry and blueberry was all killed and they started spraying every year and now nothing grows along the rail corridor. I asked back then and was horrified to learn that they use tons of herbicide per mile for the entire length of the corridor. Several months back you argued that they spray herbicides under power line distribution lines but the difference is they are selective and only spray individual broadleaf trees and cut stumps and they want grasses and shrubs to grow under the power lines. The chemicals sprayed on the rail corridor are designed to kill everything and they are broadcast over the whole width of the rail corridor. That is a lot of chemicals in the Adirondack back country.
Here is a study on snowmobile impact, including emissions, from 2005:
A whole lot of opinion in that piece. And of course due to technology improvements and the large numbers of 4-stroke engines now in use, this needs a re-write badly.
Just five years ago 86% of sleds in this survey were 2-stroke:
Some larger 4-stroke models were found to be worse.
I understand older snowmobiles pollute more. Just like older cars. My argument is against all the broadcast herbicide chemicals sprayed each year down the enteir length of the rail corridor. We should probably ban chainsaws too.
If you think that ASR is spraying dangerous chemicals with total disregard for the environment, why do you think DEC hasn’t done anything?
Unless you’ve got more, I’m going to file this as just another anti-rail smear with no basis in fact,
I have checked. They spray chemicals largely in compliance with Article 33 of the NYS environmental conservation law. These chemicals used are legal since they are contact herbicides that the US EPA says is okay if used properly because they only kill plants. You can file my complaint however you want. I’m against chemicals and pollution and killing vegetation in the backcountry.
You need to spend money for trail maintenance, too–and it’ll be about the same as for the railroad. You still have to deal with the beavers, the washouts, the tree falls, the weeds, and bridge and culvert maintenance, too.
What the trail would look like if you don’t do any of that.
Don’t you think some type of treatment will be needed to keep a 90 mile trail clear of plant life ?
Bad ruling, it’s going to take millions of dollars to upgrade the railroad. It’s a waste. Not happy
It’s going to take millions of dollars to build the trail – and more to maintain it afterwards. And it will all be from your tax dollars, because it will be a ‘free’ trail.
Not to mention the 2million that the state will have to pay back to the US Dept. of Transportation for changing the classification from transportation to trail.
Ugh horrid. RR fans should be forced to ride a bike on the shoulder from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid.
Why do that, when you could bring your bike on the train from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid, and enjoy the existing trails there?
Some people prefer to bike for exercise. Some people prefer to bike just to enjoy the back country. Trains and train tracks ruin the back country and don’t belong there.
You think bicycles are a natural part of the back country? Interesting. Some people think bicycles ruin the back country.
We can agree that bikes are not a natural part of the backcountry but by comparison the bikes don’t pollute, don’t make much noise, and unlike train tracks bike tracks are minimal and temporary and don’t require chemicals.
Grasping at straws, you are.
Complaining about noise, pollution, etc from the occasional passing train, you are ignoring the far greater impact from all the cars, trucks, RVs, snowmobiles, motor boats, aircraft in the park. What about the impact from chemicals to de-ice the roads in winter? Let’s get real here.
Good argument. I wish we could stop overpopulation. Add to your list subdividing and building everywhere. I am totally against road salt too.
It’s not that bad I do it all the time. Got a bit better with the last re-pave. I couldn’t ride my road bike on a dirt trail anyway. I could, but it is a flat waiting to happen.
At the risk of going all TL;DR, here’s a more serious comment.
The decision by Justice Main to throw out the state’s plans to tear out 34 miles of track from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid while restoring the line up to Tupper Lake is generating a lot of controversy. The reporting on the story has tended to focus on the winners and losers storyline while ignoring bigger issues. That should be getting more attention than it is.
The lawsuit came out of an Article 78 challenge. According to the Murtha Law Firm, LLC web page:
An Article 78 proceeding is a special proceeding initiated in New York State Supreme Court under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules to overturn the determinations of administrative agencies, bodies, or officers. These special proceedings are the formal mechanisms for challenging the determinations of any court, tribunal, municipal board, public corporation, or officer, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Police Commissioner, and all other licensing authorities, state agencies and town boards.
Article 78 proceedings are mainly used for four purposes:
• To ask the court to review actions of an administrative agency, public body or officer to determine whether a decision after an administrative hearing was supported by substantial evidence;
• To ask the court to find whether an administrative agency, public body or officer failed to perform its duty, and to compel the performance of said duty;
• To ask the court to make a finding whether an administrative agency, public body, or officer proceeded, is proceeding, or is about to proceed without or in excess of jurisdiction, and seeks to prohibit such action;
• To ask the court whether a determination by an administrative agency, public body or officer was made in violation of lawful procedure, was affected by an error of law, or was arbitrary and capricious, or was an abuse of discretion.
Keep an eye on that last clause.
The challenge was filed by the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society after the state revised its unit management plan for the Remsen – Lake Placid Rail Corridor. The previous UMP called for redevelopment of the entire corridor as a rail corridor with associated trail development as its best use. The new plan developed by DEC, DOT and approved by the APA came up with a ‘compromise’ that declared the best use was now to turn the last 34 miles of the line into a rail trail and ending the line at Tupper Lake.
A number of people are angry that ARPS filed the suit, claiming it was a waste of time; they’re even angrier now that’s it been shown it wasn’t. DEC’s official response at the time was “The decision has been made”. But it seems now that declaration was a little premature.
Article 78 hearings are part of the checks and balances that are supposed to keep state government honest. The executive branch is subject to judicial review to ensure it acts within its own laws and follows its own procedures. It’s a check on blatant bureaucratic overreach. It’s not a frivolous matter; it takes money to go up against the resources of the state which holds most of the cards. It’s why so few are filed, and fewer prevail. But ARPS prevailed in this case – and that’s good for good government.
Justice Main rejected the entirety of the state’s plan with definitive wording. The state failed on the attempt to stretch the classification of the corridor to include a trail as transportation use, it failed to resolve land title issues, and it completely failed to address the historic preservation laws that apply to the corridor, which is on state and national registers. By some interpretations, the state failed on all four purposes listed above, but Justice Main focused on the last one.
Here’s some quotes from the ruling:
“…When an agency interprets a regulation it promulgated, deference is afforded to that agency’s interpretive approach, unless it is ‘irrational or unreasonable’”…
Well, we know how that worked out. Deference declined. Further,
“…petitioner [ARPS] claims that the DEC and DOT approval of the 2016 UMP did not comply with the APA act and the SLMP, and that, accordingly, such an approval constituted an error of law, was arbitrary and capricious, and was an abuse of discretion…”
With regard to the historic preservation aspects of the challenge, the Judge was particularly scathing on the state’s failure to follow the law.
“…It is irrational and nonsensical to claim that a plan which must include consideration of mitigation and/or avoidance measures for a historical site is final without knowledge, and prior to the formulation of, such mitigation and avoidance measures. The pertinent historical considerations, mandated by statute, were overlooked and/or ignored, rendering the statute’s historical preservation statutory protections meaningless…”
As for title questions:
“Respondents [the state] have conceded the State is not in possession of fee title to the entire travel corridor, and it is, thus, likewise undisputed that the 2016 UMP is based upon mistaken information, assumptions, and beliefs…”
There’s more detail in the full ruling, but Justice Main’s ruling throws out the entire 2016 UMP – “…annulled and vacated, in its entirety, and in each and every part…”
Let’s ignore the parties involved here, the rails versus trails issue for a moment, and think about the bigger picture.
Under the Cuomo administration, DEC and DOT held multiple hearings, prepared findings, drafted impact statements, gathered public input, and developed a plan which the APA reviewed and approved after years of effort – only to have the entire process revealed as seriously flawed. If the ARPS had not challenged the decision, none of this would have been revealed, as is now a matter of public record.
It calls into question every other decision made by the Cuomo administration and those still pending. There have been suggestions the entire process was skewed in this case to provide a specific result – decision first, facts later – and this finding by the judge would not contradict that suspicion.
There are number of public interest groups battling over issues in the state, not just the Adirondacks. The rule of law is intended to keep those battles from descending into corruption – who has the deepest pockets? Who has the most to trade away? Where’s the political advantage – and what this legal challenge has revealed should cause all parties to look deep into what is going on.
Who was aware of how arbitrary and capricious this was, but kept silent because it appeared to be for their benefit? Who chose to stand aside, not wanting to risk antagonizing the wrong people? Who do the state agencies and the APA serve – the public interest or something else?
The fight over the future of the rail corridor is likely to remain a bone of contention. How the state will respond to Justice Main’s decision is still unknown. Will it appeal the decision? Will the state allow the railroad to resume operations in the Tri-Lakes or will it refuse to grant operating permits, perhaps on the entire line? Will it continue to bar the Rail Explorers from returning to the Adirondacks? Will it allow the entire corridor to go unused and fall back into decay, out of petty spite?
The 1996 plan that adopted Alternative 6 calling for full restoration of the corridor as a rail corridor with trail development would seem to still be the best course to pursue. It too was the product of numerous hearings and hard work by people representing a broad cross-section of interests. It has none of the flaws of the 2016 plan, and real progress has been made in the 20 years it was in full effect. The entire rail line could be upgraded to full passenger service in a year. Trail development could follow – and enhance the line instead of merely replacing it, to mutual benefit.
The 2016 plan has been revealed to be fatally flawed. If the review process starts from scratch to develop a new plan, can the process be trusted, given who still remains in charge, all the way up to Governor Cuomo? It’s no secret the plan was being driven by people whose primary goal is the elimination of the railroad, and they’re not going to give up. That the process was so skewed in their favor would suggest that they could not prevail any other way. How this is resolved has serious implications for the rest of the issues over the state’s management of the Adirondacks.
Lee Keet, noted philanthropist, conservationist, and backer of ARTA had a comment on a 9-24-17 Adirondack Almanack commentary by Pete Nelson regarding the APA , Governor Cuomo, and the decision on what to do about the Boreas Ponds. It would seem to be appropriate here as well.
“Lee Keet says:
September 25, 2017 at 8:42 am
Well said Pete. We need a lot more pressure on the commissioners to do their job as defined in the law. The Governor’s opinion should have some weight, but this is a democracy that conducts its business under the rule of law.”
Let’s make it so.
In a constitutional convention you could make adjsutments that would solve all these issues and allow a trail.
Yes anything in theory. The whole state still has to vote twice to confirm anything.
Larry – thanks for pulling all this together. It is useful to have this context and contribution to the discussion! Where did you find the language for the Judge’s ruling?
The article at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise has a link to a PDF of the decision.
Aha – perfect! I knew it had to be hidden in one of those. Thanks.
Why does the ADE article have a picture of the judge?
Nobody rides that train. I can see it from my house and 5 or 6 people per trip is the average.
they should do it like in Roscoe NY with a caboose and a small museum.
The problem is that most people who visit the area come from areas that have commuter trains.
These are not coal or wood fired trains, nothing special about them.
I don’t dislike the train, but cant you train guys become civil war reenactment guys?
Where is your house? Because I’ve ridden some of those trains, and that doesn’t match with my experience. Granted, some runs they could do with maybe just one coach or two, but they have more because it’s easier to keep a longer train together than it is to add or remove coaches for changing numbers, especially on short local hops. I’ve ridden up out of Utica several times, and those trains always seem to have good crowds. The last time I rode between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, there was a pretty good crowd too – and that was on a gloomy wet day. Maybe not the best for looking at the scenery – but then anything else outside would have been miserable. The train is something you can do despite the weather, and people were there.
The only way I could see the public getting behind the train was if it was fun.
Make it a bar train with a evening run from LP to SL then a pub crawl in SL and back.
They tried beer and wine trains between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake but gave thump because of not enough riders.
Yes, Larry, there might have been a good number on the rainy day train you rode. Most of them on sunny days were nearly empty. And I’m not the only one calling them “ghost trains.”
Yes – there seem to be a number of people suffering from that delusion. Ridership numbers continue to grow.
That works on the lower end of the line – those trains sell out. Make the run all the way to Tupper Lake and back, and see what happens.
There are other kinds of train programs that can be run as well; connecting all three of the Tri-Lakes towns would make a difference – and will.
Terry and others, please do not take this post as insensitive to an otherwise sensitive and important subject but your comment about train guys becoming civil war reenactment guys made me spit out my coffee! That was hilarious. Now, back to your regularly scheduled arguments
I am a Revolutionary War reenactor since it was brought up.
The commenters seem like a bunch of “sour grapes.” Dis those opposed to their agenda. There are enough trails in the Adirondacks to server the trail fanatics.
Let’s take a closer look at the 1996 UMP that the rail supporters continually cite as a “mandate” for NYS to rebuild the railroad. Yes, the 1996 UMP did say that Option 6, full rail restoration was the preferred option, but mainly because that had to be tried before either Option 5 (segmented between rail and recreational use) or Option 4 (full recreational use) could be implemented.
Support for Option 6 was entirely conditional, however. The 1996 UMP clearly states that track would remain, “…during a rail marketing period.” Further, the plan states the below, and I quote the entire bulleted point.
“Private enterprise will be provided the opportunity to develop tourist
excursion, passenger, and freight rail service along the full length
of the Corridor. Rail development will largely depend upon privately
secured funding sources because, although there are potential
public sources, government funding availability cannot be guaranteed.”
Based on the above, ARTA or anyone else could have filed and Article 78 against New York State for so far funding all restoration while also providing $250,000 – $300,000 per year to pay for track maintenance.
Finally, the plan later states, “Corridor segments not included in proposals approved by the State will be committed to trail development.”
Now, where is the “mandate” for the State to have restored the rails?
You’re the one creating a ‘mandate’ hurdle out of nothing Mr. Goodwin.
Alternative 6 is now the default plan, and if you want to critique it, let’s see what happens AFTER the state finally finishes restoring the entire line IT owns, AND makes a serious effort to market it.
Giving the ASR a long term lease would be a huge improvement. Being forced to operate year to year has crippled the potential of the line, made it hard to line up financing or enlist partners, or attract commercial development where appropriate. It’s time to either fish or cut bait.
It might simplify things to give DOT primary control over the corridor, since it IS a transportation corridor. DEC’s 20+ year failure to develop the trail potential within the corridor despite their mandate to do so would seem to indicate they may be the real problem.
Ahhh….but that is not what is stated in the UMP documents or support. Careful what you wish for. I think the Gov. Was attempting to please both sides but RR interests where not satisfied so it will be interesting on how this all plays out. Time will tell.
As the legal decision handed done by Justice Main makes clear, the credibility of any statements made about the corridor and the UMP by you or anyone else from ARTA should be treated with a high degree of skepticism. Everything ARTA claimed about the legality of the state’s actions and the way the process was carried out has been shown to be dubious at best and duplicitous at worst.
To quote what rail supporters were told so many times, the decision has been made. So, here’s a challenge for you Hope and the rest of ARTA.
What’s more important to you: getting a trail built or getting rid of the railroad? You can continue to delay any action on building a trail and drag it out as long as you can while you try to get the tracks pulled, or you can accept that they will remain and resolve to work with them. Rail supporters are ready and willing to share, because they know it would be better for both.
Instead of listing all the reasons it can’t be done, turn your efforts to what CAN be done, and make it happen. That’s what the rail supporters have been doing for over twenty years now, and see how far they’ve come from just a short stretch of operable track at Thendara.
You can do that or you can admit that ARTA’s primary goal has always been to get rid of the rails and the trail has just been a fig leaf for that goal.
BTW, one of the consequences of the ruling is this. Pull the tracks, and it’s no longer a transportation corridor. All of your snowmobile contingent will be forced to give up the use of the wilderness sections of the line. You might admit there are key members of ARTA who would like to see that happen too.
What’s it going to be – more pointless obstruction and posturing, or working towards a shared future for everyone?
I always thought rail&trail together is a great way to get this done.
Personally I’m for going for the whole enchilada! Remsen to LP Trail all the way. Option #4 for those of you who don’t want to wade through the entire 1996 UMP.
See my comment above. SMH
That’s really been ARTA’s goal all along, contrary to comments they have made otherwise. No one was fooled. Congrats, Hope. That’s most honest comment you’ve ever made on the subject.
Actually it was not. When I was asked to join ARTA I said I wasn’t interested unless we ultimately were to connect to Old Forge. That has been my personal goal from day one. ARTA’s goal was Tupper Lake to Lake Placid. The rest of the Tupper contingent on the board are also supporters of going all the way to Old Forge. We just agreed to start with Tupper to Lake Placid as phase 1 as a test. If it was as great as we thought it would be we could convince the powers that be to go to at least Big Moose. If not the railroad could rebuild on the improved corridor. We aren’t afraid of the test.
The LP to Tupper section as recreation trail always made the most sense. It’s 34 miles, one way, likely far enough, if not too far for a family excursion. It has Saranac and Tupper Lake as towns with services, so not an expedition.
The Tupper to Old Forge recreation trail never made a lot of sense for other then hard core cyclists, due to the length (55 miles one way ?), with the trail pretty much entirely out in the middle of woods the entire time. Why I would love to ride that as a trail, I can also see the argument that few cyclists and hikers would use this section, as once you get on it, there are few road crossings that allow entry/exit. Keeping and improving as a tourist rail line makes sense for this section.
It would make a fabulous bike packing destination camping along the way at Lake Lila, Lows Lake and other scenic areas. People could also bike into Beaver River and stay in cabins or the hotel. Maybe even camp there as well. There are NO bike packing trails in the Adirondacks unless you chose the highway. A non starter for most families. What a terrific way to get into the wilderness with your kids. Let’s encourage young people to be active rather than sit on the behinds staring at a screen.
I agree with you Hope – it would make a great bike packing trail – but as Steve Bailey points out, it’s 55 miles into the middle of nowhere. Few roads.
If anyone gets into trouble, it’s going to be real job to get them out. I expect there’s no cell phone coverage in much of that area as well. All of that would make search and rescue a real challenge, and I believe the people who do it now are already pretty stretched. I’ve been in the back country in northern New Mexico (Kit Carson National Forest, Philmont), and the Boundary Waters in Minnesota as well as the Adirondacks. I know it’s not a trivial concern.
There’s also the problem that while it would be a great experience for the few physically capable of handling it, it would effectively exclude many who could otherwise enjoy the area with a less strenuous experience to get there. You know where I’m going, of course.
The rails are already there – it’s not a new use. They’ve been idle too long. Besides – think of how nice it would be to be able to do the whole stretch by bike, knowing that you wouldn’t need to have cars at both ends. The train could take you out or bring you back for your trip. That’s how they do it on real world class trails, like the Pennine Cycleway in England.
Rails with trails, Hope. Rails with trails.
Hope, that’s technically true, but still dishonest.
A regular ARTA talking point was that the rail people should just accept the compromise – as would ARTA, and each should be satisfied with what the were getting. The railroad was attacked for being “greedy” – wanting to keep from losing a key part of the line they had been working to preserve for years, while ARTA would be handed a trail gratis.
All the time ARTA has still been working to ensure that the railroad would fail – cutting it off from Lake Placid, a world famous destination, was seen as advancing that goal. The fact that there were no plans to integrate the trail end in Tupper Lake with the railroad is further evidence that ARTA has always been determined to block the success of the rails any way it can.
If you’re going to be honest Hope, let’s have full disclosure.
Your entitled you your own delusions. Of course we would support the compromise. Why wouldn’t we. If the train can’t work to Tupper, undoubtedly the most scenic part, why would it work all the way to Lake Placid? We already know what will happen. Just look at the debacle going on with Saratoga-North Creek Railroad and Warren County.
Well, I’m not delusional and I’ve seen enough comments from the trail crowd to convince me that the ultimate goal is to take out the railroad all the way to Thendara at least and Remsen if they can get away with. That’s what your own comment was to start off with and it’s very revealing. You people look less like a trail advocacy outfit and more like an anti-rail hate group with every passing day.
ARTA, in its haughtiness, mistakenly thought it could run the table. Now it lost and I see no indication of any sort of conciliatory approach from ARTA towards the railroad in the wake of Judge Main’s ruling. It’s just more of the same old rhetoric we’ve heard for months.
Hope, it’s your inability to understand plain language and to distort what you do see but don’t want to concede that makes you fundamentally dishonest.
1) I never said you wouldn’t accept the compromise – what I said was you honored it in word only, as a first step towards taking the “whole enchilada”. That’s not what I understand a compromise to mean, especially when you are continuing efforts to do everything possible to cripple the railroad.
2) Don’t imply I don’t see the value and scenic beauty of Tupper Lake. It has that and more – but if you are going to tell me it has a bigger world- wide reputation as a travel destination than Lake Placid, you are delusional at best and even more dishonest at worst.
3) as for Saratoga & North Creek, apples and oranges. Iowa Pacific is caught in a cash flow problem in their larger business that has limited the resources they need to provide and promote their passenger service. Their business model also was counting on freight revenue out of Tahawus, that has failed to meet expectations. It doesn’t prove the rails are the problem. You also fail to mention how well Revolution Rail is doing.
Hope, This isn’t about the rail line any longer. It’s whether or not you and ARTA can face reality and stop holding the region back.
Tony you have beat to death who is to blame for corridor improvements that did not happen. ASR did not receive the long term lease and the DOT/ASR relationship was based on 30 day permits. No corridor development can occur with private funds if long term leases are not part of the equation. All that is water over the dam now, but it is interesting that you and trail boosters think trail development should be through public funding now; quite a contrast.
Option 5 or Option 4 require amendments to the SLMP as clearly outlined in the 1996 UMP and as cited by Judge Mains order. His ruling also makes it clear the attempt by NYS to circumvent the APA Act was against the law. DEC, DOT and the APA all knew this by their own acknowledgement.
Only one guy spoke up about this in the APA hearing; Dick Booth. Not long after, he resigned from his seat on the APA, citing outside influences were affecting the APA duties. Nobody has mentioned this. Why did the APA look the other way when in a public meeting one of their respected members flat out told them the travel corridor change needed to be handled in a SLMP amendment? Could it be because the SLMP change would involve a lot of input from outside the area, perhaps input from folks not quite under the same “outside influence”?
This plan by ARTA and the DEC was created without regard for the law that all were well aware of, and the APA turned their heads to it and put their stamp of approval on it. Some of you might want to look deeper into the source of what concerned Dick Booth.
Hooray, there are enough existing trails to satisfy any hiker for the rest of their life.
Why destroy a Historic gem for the sake of a few. If this were to occur,(a trail parallel to the rails). In a short time “someone private or state funded would have to clean up the trash left by casual tourists”.
Good news. Now I don’t have to worry about the state illegally dumping torn up railroad ties in the Catskill Mountains like they did with Hurricane Irene debris.
Again, I don’t think it is fair to talk about the usage at the small stretch at the northern end as being indicative of the RRs potential. The use at the southern end is probably more informative since there it actually goes somewhere interesting. Most can agree the trains between SL and LP are totally boring. A flat as a pancake trail there is pretty boring too. I can see why the sledders like the plan. Like I have siad before I think it should all be a trail or a train – this hybrid option was silly. The abandonded rail line out near Lake Clear is a hit with snowmobiles (and ATVs) don’t see too many bikers or hikers on it. What is the ends of that trail?
I think my main issue with the judge’s decision was WRT the historical preservation aspect. I believe the judge’s opinion that the state’s mitigation plans were flawed or insufficient was on its own fairly arbitrary. While it is true the entire corridor has significant history, what tangible asset is currently part of that history? Certainly not a ‘modern’ diesel locomotive. What would the judge deem as the appropriate rolling stock to preserve the corridor’s historical significance? Early steam? Late steam? Diesel? How about the rails & ties? If they are historic, how can we tear them up and replace them with new ones to maintain the line? Bridges? Are they studied in-depth for historic value before any upgrades are made, and if so, are they brought up to current standards or “historical” standards? Rail stations/terminals? Many of those have been renovated by communities and architectural preservationists, or at least kept from deterioration, and I don’t recall the state wanting to remove any recently renovated buildings.
Currently, without ASR running on that 34 miles there is no real public education (lectures, commentary, etc.) as would occur during one of their excursions. The public cannot access the corridor, so signage, kiosks, education/rest stops that the state intended to install will not be built. Along the corridor, the main place any historical information that can currently be had by tourists is at terminals and stations. The way I see it, ARPS is saying that the only history that can be effectively communicated is if you buy their tickets and ride the ASR, and that is hokum. Or is the ASR the only history ARPS is trying to preserve?
I agree on the historic preservation stuff. My take away from looking at the ruling is that if this stands no trail can exist ever on the corridor. He is ruling that the “travel corridor” is removed with the tracks. He rules that pulling the tracks would “remove” segment 2 from the corridor. That is pretty damming for a trail. Unless it can be shown that there is some serious flaw in this ruling I think its over for a rail trail. I thougth that maybe they could go back and try and follow proper procedure but now I don’t think that would really matter.
It’s not just the current equipment on the line, though there is this. Some would say those old streamlined diesels are pretty historic all by themselves, and there’s at least one that actually ran on the line when it was still operated by the New York Central. They’re not all that modern – some are 50-60+ years old and long gone from elsewhere.
It’s the entire rail system that collectively is historically significant – the right of way is still pretty much intact and runs where it has always run, many of the stations are still intact, and capable of serving their original purpose in some cases. Utica’s union station is a historic landmark in its own right. You don’t just have an individual building or stretch of track – the whole context is still largely there.
Bring in the appropriate equipment, and you could picture yourself on the line at any era in its history. (One of the things that isn’t realized is that the rail line would be ideal for TV and movie projects. They’re doing that on the Delaware and Ulster RR) The ASR has some historic equipment now, and could add more as the corridor is redeveloped.
BTW – the private cars that recently traveled up to Thendara? I believe at least one of them was 100 years old.
Hope says: “Personally I’m for going for the whole enchilada! Remsen to LP Trail all the way. Option #4 for those of you who don’t want to wade through the entire 1996 UMP.”
Yes Hope. We know. Thank you for your honesty, no matter how late.
It sounds to me like there’s a standoff in the making. The judge says the rails can’t be removed. But the railroad has been dependent on state funding for maintenance of the corridor, and to my knowledge nothing requires the state to continue providing that funding, or even to lease the corridor to ASR. Isn’t the most likely outcome that the rails will remain (at least for now) but continue to be unused and decay?
Another decade slips by in the Adirondacks and no one can agree on whether to move ahead, or live in the past….. Finding that balance is hard, but no decision means stagnation….. a couple of people will go for a rail trip, and a few people will cycle around the region. And the real benefits of either decision will not be realized. And instead, other towns and regions will work out solutions and draw sustainable tourism and economic development to far away places.
Which is why the rail supporters have been working for rail AND trail. They’ve been moving forward for over 20 years now. Time for ARTA to catch up with reality.
It looks the issue here has little to do with what people “want” to do wether that be a trail or train. It looks like the issue is what people “can” do. It looks like they can’t build a trail if they remove the RR since that would mean the travel corridor (as defined by the law) would go away, and with it the option to build a trail.
That is the key. Lose the railroad, lose ALL.
It’s not just the “forever wild” segments. There are also portions of the line that are not owned outright, but are only “easements.”
For those who may not be familiar with that, an easement is a type of lease, one that allows someone or another entity to cross property owned by another. They are common for pipelines, electric lines, and railroads.
A big sticker in most rail easements is what’s called a reversion clause. What that means is if the railroad is abandoned, the property “reverts” or returns to the property owners. In other words, the easement itself legally disappears.
When this whole thing started, the state claimed, and ARTA repeated, that the whole railroad was owned outright or in “fee simple,” and there was no easement issue. Not too long ago, the state did admit to at least four easements, and someone else, I believe in Lake Clear, came up with over 30 in that little town!
How many others are there that we don’t know about yet?
The problem is the easement agreements, which are still in effect, say the easement is for a railroad, not a trail, not a travel corridor.
You want to keep the easement open, that means a NEW easement agreement, to be paid for with a NEW fee.
Those fees can get salty. There’s a case out west where a trail was supposed to go in, but the easement owners got active, and the state is buying the easements at an average of $5 million per mile. To put that in perspective, to pave a trail and properly engineer what’s needed is only about $1 million per mile.
Then there is the group fighting a trail down near Ithaca. That railroad has been gone since 1956 or so, but the anti-trail people are saying the trail group has no right to the old right of way because it was and remains an easement, and that it’s sale to an electric company was never legal.
That stuff just doesn’t up and die!
Here’s I’m sure a complicated question that someone might be able to answer. NY State owns the corridor, so if they pull up the rails, that means the designation of travel corridor goes away, who owns the land the travel corridor sits on? If the state still owns it, then they can go forward with a trail, if not at that point I really won’t care! Because then it’s a moot point, no trail no rail!
It seems that if they removed the tracks, it then no longer is defined as a travel corridor…DOT transfers the property to DEC, it becomes forest preserve, and due to the existing railroad bed it would have to be classified as wildforest.
Sections through WF would probably be classified as WF (Bikes and maybe snowmobiles). The sections through Wilderness would be classified as wilderness. No bikes no sleds the woods reclaims the bed.
There is also the easement issue, mentioned above.
Technically because the railroad bed is a massive permanent manmade structure, per SLMP it cannot be classified as wilderness. You are probably right though, despite what the SLMP requires they would argue for the railbed to be wilderness.
I think the rail corridor, if rails and footings were to be removed, could allow the right-of-way to be classified as wilderness. The state did this on a section of road called the “Burn Road” I believe, that went from the Whitney Headquarters area, west along the north side of Little Tupper Lake. The road is closed to vehicles, including snowmobiles and they are allowing nature to re-claim the road. It’s also in the William Whitney Wilderness area.
The State Land Master Plan was amended at the same time as the new UMP. That amendment was not, perhaps, as strong as it should have been; but the intent was certainly there. Another tweak to the SLMP and that issue goes away.
Yes, the 1996 UMP recommended a long-term lease for the rail operator. Ray Hessinger, the top DOT representative at all the hearings held on the new UMP, said at one APA meeting that he knew that DOT had offered ARPS a long-term lease. What he didn’t know, because it was “before his time” at DOT, was why ARPS did not accept that offer. The offer may have (appropriately in my view) been very “conditional” based on DOT’s then-recent experience with Frank Menair and his failed Adirondack Railway operation.
Finally, the 1996 UMP clearly stated that here were actions of the Corridor where recreational use could not be accommodated within the rail corridor. Please, look at the entire UMP and not at just the particular phrases that support the rail supporters point of view.
Sorry, the last paragraph should have said “there were sections…” rather than “here were actions…”
Mr. Goodwin, let me be blunt.
I am not the one who has to prove anything here. You and all the supporters of ARTA are.
The 2016 UMP was rejected in each and every particular after an independent judicial review. As ARTA staked everything on that plan and promoted it vigorously, it is now ARTA’s responsibility to acknowledge how much they have gotten wrong – and ponder how much of it was done so knowingly.
You claim a tweak to the SLMP would fix everything? It would not.
It might address the transportation corridor classification issue, but only by bending it totally out of shape from its original intent. If you want to declare a multi-use trail counts as a transportation corridor, then you are setting a precedent that any multi-use trail can be treated as a transportation corridor. Do you really want to go there?
It does nothing to address the other two major complaints about the 2016 UMP. It does not make the title questions disappear. The state has admitted that it does not have fee title to the right of way once the tracks are removed. And there are indications that only the tip of the iceberg is showing on title issues so far.
It does nothing to address the total disregard for the state’s own historic preservation laws. Now it has been argued by an ARTA partisan that “Rusting rails and rotting ties are not history” – but that’s NOT how the law sees it. Historic designations are not arbitrary; they are the result of a careful process and protected by statute – which, as the judge says, would be rendered meaningless by the 2016 UMP. Again – do you really want to go there?
That callous disregard for the region’s heritage is no different than the attitude of someone who doesn’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to clearcut wild forest lands, or put developments anywhere they feel like it.
You concede the 1996 UMP called for long term leases, but just report one person’s recollection that ARPS refused it, with no explanation why. If you had bothered to talk to ARPS, you might have found out what the complete story was. You apparently had no interest in pursuing the matter further. You have taken the position that what happened almost 40 years ago under completely different circumstances is still the case today – therefore you think long term leases would not be prudent.
You might ask why in 20+ years there have been no further offers of long term leases, despite the justifications cited in the 1996 UMP and complaints from the ARPS that being limited to 30 day operating permits has made it difficult to obtain grant funding, loans, or to enter into partnerships with other groups and businesses. You might ask how it has complicated operations, when the ASR has to rearrange its schedule around permit delays by the state. You might also ask how the permitting process was used to drive the Rail Explorers out of the area. You might ask – if you had an honest interest in the answers.
You cite the 1996 UMP as noting that some sections of the corridor could not accommodate recreational uses. (Which I take you to mean “if the rails remain.”) True – which does not prevent the state from pursuing alternatives in those sections. TRAC has developed a number of trail solutions that address those problems.
There’s nothing in the 1996 UMP which declares everything must be confined within the boundaries of the corridor. In fact the rejected 2016 UMP specifically includes trail development to points of interest outside the corridor. Funny how that works, when what has been declared impossible is suddenly no big deal at all.
Mr. Goodwin, if it seems to you I keep emphasizing the pro-rail information in the UMP’s, perhaps it is because you have been so determined to suppress it. I assure you I’ve been over all the material thoroughly – including the things that were completely absent in the 2016 plan, but should have been there in an honest and complete document. Trust me – those omissions were not trivial.
It is no secret that the 2016 plan for the rail trail, now completely rejected in every particular, was practically dictated by ARTA with the state’s willing cooperation. The way hearings were scheduled on ARTA home turf, the way public input was selectively treated, the exclusion of input from other communities outside the tri-lakes despite the importance of what happens anywhere on the line to everyone on the line, the total omission of the impact of the Rail Explorers and more – what should have been a fact-based review process was twisted to get the answers you wanted.
The trail planning ‘stakeholders’ admitted that their first order of business was to adopt the ARTA plans for the trail, lock, stock, and barrel. No one else was allowed in the room. There are obvious ways the input of rail people would have been valuable, if only because the trail was supposed to end at what would have become the new railhead in Tupper Lake. Instead, the trail planners acted as though the line didn’t exist, other than as something to work around. There was no effort to share facilities or make interoperation easy.
Given that ARTA’s position then and now is that they still want the rails gone all the way back to Thendara, is that a surprise? For all of ARTA’s hypocritical condemnation of the rail supporters for not accepting the ‘compromise’, they had no intention of honoring it themselves – and would do nothing to make it any easier for the railroad reach its full potential under the 2016 plan. Why should we accept your words now at face value or give any credit to your concerns?
You dismissed every objection from the rail supporters and others who pointed out the flaws in your plans. You ridiculed warnings that there were unresolved title issues. You said all the history of the line could be handled with just a few kiosks and markers – after the dust settled. You made all kind of promises, made all kinds of insinuations and baseless charges. You spent 5 years and more in a process which has now been judged a total charade rather than a fair and objective exercise of government.
There should now be serious questions about the performance of DEC, DOT, and the APA in how they mishandled this so badly. The integrity of Governor Cuomo’s administrative oversight is also shadowed by this. ARTA needs to be questioned as well over their place in all of this. How much did they know? How much did they simply accept – or actively encourage?
And while that is happening, it should be noted that the rail supporters have been vindicated on every point that matters. They are ready to move ahead, and more than willing to see trail development in the corridor – so long as it complies with the law, accepts their continuing presence, and is based on an honest policy process. That’s all they’ve ever wanted, because they know it would benefit both the rails and the trails.
The entire line could be upgraded to full passenger service in a year, given the will and the funding on the part of the state. From that, the rest will follow.
It’s time to end the partisan divide that has pitted the tri-lakes against every other community on the line all the way back down to Utica. It’s time to come together to realize the full potential of the corridor – for everyone. Not just train supporters, but hikers, cyclists, tourists, wilderness advocates, snowmobilers, cross country skiers, Olympians, international visitors, the young, the old, the disabled, and anyone else who wants to enjoy the Adirondacks in whatever way they wish. There’s room for all of us if we will only work together.
So Mr. Goodwin, I put it to you. Are you going to accept the decision of the court that has soundly rejected ARTA’s position on the corridor, or are you going to continue your exclusionary agenda despite both fact and law being against you? Are you going to prolong a pointless fight that goes back 30-40-50 years or more, or will you finally accept that rails have a place in the Adirondacks along with everything else and work to find a way forward?
Is it possible to post a document in this forum?
I have a document that may explain why ARPS did not accept an offer by the DOT for a long term lease. It is a .pdf which is actually pages from three different documents someone put together for a reason. I thought I shared this with you Tony in another forum, but perhaps not.
In reality back in 1992, ARPS did not approve of any of the six options discussed at “scoping sessions” and stated so. ARPS made a proposal to the DOT to take possession of the corridor–to own it–and proceed with all private commercial development. Obviously this was rejected by DOT, and thus, ARPS did not agree to a long term lease where all the cost of development was on property they did not own. This document spans time between 1992 and 1995, so I don’t know if the scoping session options became the six options presented in the 1996 UMP verbatim, but the context is there.
Perhaps the 30 day permit system was a solution to move forward between two parties that could not agree on a more binding contract. In retrospect, this did not serve the railroad or NYS to the intended purpose of being able to restore the corridor to full operation or economic development.
While you continually point to the 1996 UMP language and infer the railroad owned the development, and others also about ASR owning all the maintenance, you and others don’t consider it takes a signed contract between two parties to get the job done. I suppose the DOT always had the option to look elsewhere for an operator, and ARPS had the option to cease their mission of preserving the rail corridor. ARPS was responsible for getting the Remsen-Lake Placid Rail Corridor on the state and national Register of Historic Places, something that was significant in Judge Mains ruling
I asked an ARPS director, Al Dunham, for a copy of their business plan. He flatly turned me down, so I didn’t think there was any point in asking him or anyone else in ARPS for any other documents they had that might answer the questions about why ARPS never received a long-term lease.
So, if you have such documents, either figure out how to post them, or you can send them to me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org This is our “down-home” server, so if the package is over 10mb, split in pieces. I await your response.
Check your email lately?
If I was the state, I would just declare the tracks as inoperable in their present condition & that the state is unwilling to invest any more money in their repair, leave them in place & just cover them up with a trail! And I’d do this starting right at Big Moose!
Ben – there are several problems with that.
For one, there are Federal regulations that would not make it easy for the state to simply wave its magic wand and declare the line inoperable. It doesn’t work that way.
It would also fall under the “arbitrary and capricious” standard – already a test the state has failed. I am not a lawyer, but I don’t think it would last 5 minutes in court – any court.
Remove the tracks, and you wouldn’t be able to run your snowmobile on it – because that would be motorized use in an area where that would no longer be permitted.
And there’s this. You might try to pull the tracks all the way down to Utica if you want – but you still won’t be able to make it snow. The winters are not getting colder or longer – just the opposite.
Do you really want to deprive thousands of people the use of the railroad the rest of the year for the three months of the year you might – I repeat might – get some snow? Because that’s what you are asking for.
“If I was the state” is a fun game to play, but this isn’t a game. Instead, you might start asking what the state could do to make snowmobiling better while also keeping the tracks. If the state can ram a new paved highway all the way to the top of Blue Mountain, what else can they do if they really want to do it?
Well to answer your questions: State owns the corridor & I believe they can do with it as they wish (as long as they stay withing the law), so declaring it inoperable is in my opinion quite easy. It’s unsafe now to use north of Big Moose & if the state doesn’t want to put any more money into it, it becomes inoperable & unsafe! Second, I never said remove the tracks I said cover them up so it is a flat surface. The rails would still be there if the stat ever wanted to invest the money & make them usable again. Third, I never sia dall the way to Utica, I said just norht of Big Moose, You’d still have the scenic line to Old Forge from Utica. I’ve NEVER advocated for the termination of that!!!!! NAd last even on a limited snow year, snowmobiling generates more income to the ADK than you do on a full running season!
You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. You can believe anything you choose, but that doesn’t make it so.
The reference to Utica was exaggeration – but some in the snowmobiling community have called for exactly that even though the state only owns the line down to Remsen. Your statement that the line is unsafe to use north of Big Moose is wrong. It’s not currently able to support passenger operations – an easy fix – but it can be used to move equipment. (Federal rules on track classification are what apply here.)
Covering the tracks has been suggested already – and rejected. Not going to happen.
The state may or may not want to put any more money into the rails – but both the 2016 plan and the 1996 plan called for just that, so it’s a question of the state not following its own policies and breaking its own promises.
As for you your claim about how much income snowmobiling generates, it’s not a small amount… BUT:
1) Snowmobile registrations, snowmobile visitors are down, and the numbers have been going down for years. Why invest more in a declining market?
2) Winters are becoming warmer with less snowfall, and snow-rain mixes that keep it from accumulating. Again, why chase a market in decline? Why do you think the Governor is investing so much in making the Olympic venues in the Lake Placid region all-season facilities now?
3) You can talk all you want to about how much money snowmobiles bring in – but you can’t make a fair case about the rail line unless you can show how much money comes ONLY from snowmobiles using the corridor now, and how much more IF the tracks are removed. (And points 1 and 2 still apply.)
As long as we’re playing fantasy games…
IF I were the state, I’d rebuild the line to at least Class 2 specs with welded rail and concrete ties all the way. I’d build a trail system in and around the corridor that would allow snowmobiles to stay off the tracks, including adding on to the bridges to separate trains from other corridor users so trains could run year round. I’d add service stops to allow back country hikers, canoers, and cross-country skiers to access places they can’t get to easily today. Where there wasn’t enough room for all of this in the corridor, I’d develop trails around those sections. I’d equip the line with zero carbon emission engines, using either biofuels or hydrogen fuel cell technology. And, all of this would connect with a high speed passenger rail system at Utica that would stretch across the state. I’d promote the hell out of it all around the world – because it would draw visitors from around the world.
It only sounds like a fantasy because America doesn’t think that way – but the rest of the world does. China is expanding the world’s largest high speed rail network; India is proposing to follow. Europe, Japan already have outstanding rail networks. In the United Kingdom, they just restored a rail line to serve an area in Scotland that needed a boost to the economy. It’s been a bigger success than they hoped. It sounds exactly like what the Adirondacks need.
Why don’t you go look at what NY State law says about a trail next to a active rail? Isn’t going to happen. Snowmobiling may be in decline in the state, but it would have to hit rock bottom for a few years before it ever gets down to a level that you consider a success for the ASR/ARPS. On a down year we are still generate LARGE amounts of more revenue that you can ever dream of with that rail! There is no need for a CAT II level of rail service & there hasn’t been one for decades. The tracks are in a inoperable state. Just go ask the tree cutting service that just went thru & ask how many times their equipment derailed while riding on the old worn rails/ties. All I have is do is look at your tax books to see what kind of revenue you’ve generated, plus just look at what everyone else says. You lost your maintenance facility on Griffiss because of nopt paying the bills; it’s recently been blogged/reported you aren’t paying on one of the engines you currently are using; you cann’t even begin to build a maintenace facility down enar Utica without the state giving you a grant; how many interest free loans have the ARPS members had to front to ASR for it to survive. How much money have you bilked from the state to maintain the rails which only you use. Snowmobiling DOESN’T take a dime in grant money or loans from the state to maintain the trails we have. We get our revenue from the number of sleds registered in the state every year. How much money did the state spend to fix the rails between Old Forge & Big Moose, just so you could run maybe 20 trains a year to Big Moose. How many people atually ride your trains withing the ADK. Trains that run from Utica to Remsen or Holland Patent don’t count, they don’t enter the park. Why not STOP double counting passengers & report real ridership. You want to claim snowmobile ridership is down, STOP inflating train ridership!
Ben, Ben, Ben – Calm Down!
Trails next to tracks are simple – all the laws need is just a tweak if there’s a problem, right? (Hey – if ARTA can make that argument, anyone can.) And the rails to trails conservancy has plenty of info on rails and trails – they say they’re safe, there are a lot of them, and they work great.
As for the rest of your fact dump, if snowmobiles are pumping so much money into the state, why is the state going to spend millions to build this trail when it sounds like you guys could pay for it all?
About your claims about the railroad and the track and money, do you have anything to back this up besides hearsay and internet blog posts? There’s been a lot things people ‘know’ that the court case proved just wasn’t so.
In any case – do you have hard numbers or reasonable estimates to show how much money would come out of the corridor from snowmobiles, with and without tracks? And how many people ride them? 20 Trains a summer to Big Moose probably carry way more people total than the sledders do – and let’s not forget runs to Thendara bring people into the Adirondacks too, so those numbers count as well.
And there you go again with that old double- counting slander again. Give it a rest.
“As for the rest of your fact dump, if snowmobiles are pumping so much money into the state, why is the state going to spend millions to build this trail when it sounds like you guys could pay for it all?”
Larry, that is because their intent is to spend “millions” on a 4-season recreation trail, not a dedicated snowmobile trail. Not only do snowmobiles contribute to local economies, skiing, walking, biking, birding, and trail access for people with mobility issues who wish to enjoy some serenity and fresh air ALL contribute as well. Your arguments typically isolate the individual and their activity from the rest of the activities the trail can provide – thus ignoring the TOTAL financial impact. Simply put, the state’s compromise that would have allowed some trail and some rail within the corridor was the cheapest available option in many people’s eyes. They took a shot. The lawsuit spoiled it.
You and Mr. Falcsik certainly have bad blood with ARTA. But that seems to get in the way of a reasonable debate with citizens who are allied with neither “side” of the litigants. Many people just want change – they just want to see something happen to the corridor that can benefit everyone year round. Is that a bad thing? Many people in the area don’t see a scenic RR or even a modern rail system that dead ends in Lake Placid as benefiting anyone but the RR and LP. And even that benefit is only financial. Where is the recreational benefit of getting outside – getting some fresh air, exercise, silence and solitude?
Realistically, how is a very expensive and unlikely side-by-side rail & trail ever going to be built? There will still be legal issues and land issues as the corridor will need to be widened in areas, bridges built or widened, wetland issues – all needing DEC and APA blessings because much of the corridor lies in the Forest Preserve. You can post all of the links you like showing successes around the world with rails and rails+trails, but all of them would be problematic in the FP – and you know that. They simply don’t apply. The legal ROW and easement Catch-22’s involved with rail corridors in this state and country are illogical and need to be addressed at a state and national level.
You can condemn the state and the administration(s) for trying to do provide a low-cost compromise to benefit to as many citizens as possible – whether they knew the morass they were jumping into or not – but I don’t feel you should condemn their intent. I feel they were trying to be as financially responsible as possible to NYS taxpayers. If they would have tried to submit a bazillion dollar plan to develop a rail+trail plan, the legislature would have likely suggested a lower-cost compromise similar to what was planned. I applaud the state for keeping our taxes in mind and at least coming up with a compromise while keeping costs down.
Glaringly absent from this discussion are posts and opinions by “the state”. It seems the debate rapidly devolved into rails vs. trails without any input from the administration other than ‘after listening to public comments, we are going to do this’. From that point on, not a word. They allowed the issue to burn out in court without explaining the ongoing and ever-changing situation. They dropped the ball – or hot potato if you will.
I would hope the state comes up with a better plan of execution if they haven’t shelved the project entirely. If laws need to be ‘tweaked’ and easement issues need to be addressed, then do that first. Otherwise, they need to start selling the taxpayers on a rail+trail bond issue. I wish us all luck. Unfortunately, in the meantime, I foresee the northern segment continuing to languish.
I believe you are giving the state too much credit for trying be financially responsible when it looks more like they were trying to get away with a cheap political “win” instead of doing it right.
The rail community doesn’t deny the value of a multi-user trail, but there seems to be zero reciprocity from the trail crowd as to the value of the rails and how both would enhance each other. As has been noted above, calling them an anti-rail would seem to be a more honest description.
Larry, please define who you and Bill Hutchinson refer to as the “trail-crowd”. Anyone against the rails? Rails+trails? Anyone willing to accept the state’s compromise? ARTA? If you are going to vilify a group, please be a little more specific so we can tell who you are trying to insult. Otherwise you are just pissing off a lot of people you don’t mean to.
Now, Boreas, we’ve all seen the comments and actions. If the shoe fits, wear it.
As to “pissing off a lot of people”, I’d say ARTA did a pretty good job of pissing off those of us who support the railroad.
This all could have been avoided by taking a more conciliatory and cooperative position. Instead ARTA CHOSE its in-your-face approach and many of its leading lights continue to that path. Their stubborn insistence on having everything their way has led us directly to the court’s decision.
So be it.
Amen to that. Did the report ever show the extant trail system in the Adorondacks? No! The Adirondacks has a very extensive trail system . If you think these trail are for the hiking community, guess again. For their own selfish reason, the trail only folks want to take an historic rail corridor away. Do they not like the train horns? Do thy have a NIMBY agenda? That is for them to answer. For a New Yorker like myself , I’d like to see Placid get the Oltmpic Games again. But not without a railroad.
Boreas, you raise a point that needs to be examined. This whole battle is too easily simplified into rail versus trail, just shorthand for a more complex situation. Speaking only for myself, here’s my take on what the “trail crowd” label includes:
Pro-trail – exactly what it says. People who think a multiuser trail would be a good thing. If they are willing to share the corridor with the rails and work together to mutual benefit, we have absolutely no quarrel with them. That’s the kind of vision the 1996 UMP attempts to pursue with Alternative 6. Then there are the rest.
Pro-trail without rail; feasibility class. This group also wants the trail, but they do not believe it is possible to have both for a variety of reasons. They prefer trail over rail IF they have to make a choice. (More on that below.) They’d probably accept rails if it could be shown it could be done.
Pro-trail without rail; snowmobile class. This one is obvious – they want the rails gone because they need more snow to use the corridor with the rails in place. As to their support for the multi-user aspect of the trail, that’s of variable importance to them as long as they can get their snowmobiles over it – IF the snow comes at all. 😉 This also includes everyone who makes money catering to the snowmobile crowd and sees them as their cash cow. The big problem for all of them is, remove the tracks, they may lose access if/when the corridor is reclassified.
Pro-trail without rail; wilderness class. These people believe the rails serve no useful purpose and should be removed to return the park to a more natural state. They don’t like the idea of development in the park, at least, not this kind. Some see the rails as the only obstacle to creating the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Of course if they get that, it would lock out the snowmobile users – but they’ll work with them for now to get the tracks removed. Then they’ll shut them out too.
Pro trail without rail: tax protest class. These are people who want the rails gone because they believe the state is wasting their money on people “who want to play with trains” on their dime. They don’t believe the economic benefits of the rails, they don’t believe the ridership numbers. They just want the trains gone. The fact that the trail will also cost them money and will have no source of revenue to support it does not bother them. Neither does the idea that their tax money will subsidize people who want to play with snowmobiles and bicycles. (See the what’s in it for me class below.)
Pro-trail without rail; bottom line class. These are people who see no net benefit to the region from the rails, and/or think the economic gains from the trail would be greater. It’s cheaper to build the trail by removing the rails, so that’s the way to go in their eyes. The long term consequences, the environmental and historic aspects do no matter to them.
Pro-trail without rail; what’s in it for me class. These are people who want the trains gone because they simply can’t see use for them personally. They won’t ride the trains more than once, they’ll never take them for a long trip, and they don’t see why anyone else would either. They simply can’t conceive that anyone would want to take a train to the area, They can’t imagine anyone giving up the use of their car to travel by train. And, they might, repeat might, go on the trail once or twice because it’s ‘free’.
Pro-trail without rail; it’ll never work class. Related to the above and the bottom line class. They are convinced there is no place for trains; everyone drives and will always want to drive. Trains will never come back. This ignores what is happening in the rest of the world, and is often seen in people who grew up at a time when American railroads were disappearing right and left, highways were being built everywhere, and cars have reshaped our communities so it’s impossible to live without them. Trains might work somewhere else, but never here.
Pro-trail without rail; NIMBY class. These are people who simply don’t want trains in their back yard and are supporting the trail primarily as a means of getting rid of the trains. It’s quite likely some of them will also fight to block construction of the trail once the tracks are gone, because NIMBY.
Pro-trail without rail; political class. These are people who are pro-trail because A) they see it as something their base wants, B) it’s something their financial backers want, C) they honestly think it’s the best decision, D) they see “Free Money” and something to take credit for, E) they want the rails gone for other reasons, and F) all or part of the above.
Pro-trail without rail: gentrification class. These are people who see trains and tourism as something to move away from. They see having a ‘world class’ trail as a marketing advantage to attract an upscale class of home buyers and entrepreneurs. They’re chasing money, in other words, and they can’t use the tracks for bait. They see them as a negative.
Pro-trail without rail; isolationist class. These are the people who see the fight to save the rails as being forced on them by outside interests. They don’t want the trains, but more importantly (to them) they want to feel they are control in their own communities – despite the fact that those communities rely on money coming in from outside the region to survive. They refuse to acknowledge those among them who do support the rails – all they see is “those people in Albany” or whomever else they want to blame.
I won’t pretend that’s an exhaustive list – there are doubtless other motivations. There’s overlap between classes of course, and people differ how strongly they meet those criteria – but it’s enough to give you some idea of how a complex situation is being oversimplified by the “trail-crowd” label. As Bill Hutchinson notes, anti-rail might be a better description because it connects the one common element they share.
There’s also the fact that there are a certain number of people who do not have strong feelings either way. How big that number is is hard to say, but the decision by the judge seems to have encouraged some to come down on the side of the rails, and others to go the other way.
I’m not going to finish without doing a quick list of pro-rail classes, because that’s not simple either. They include:
• People who like trains, like operating them, like riding them. This includes people within the area – and all the people who come to the area to make use of the rails.
• People who think the history of the region matters, that it provides context, provides a unique character to the region, and contributes to a sense of place/sense of community.
• People who see the rails as a provider of jobs, widener of a narrow economic base, an engine for growth, and a hedge against the uncertainty of changing climate and changing demographics.
• People who see government support for the rail corridor as no different and just as important as investment in roads, schools, water supplies and the general public good.
• People who see the rails supporting their businesses, by attracting visitors, by providing local employment that channels visitor money into the local economy, by specifically attracting visitors who would not have come otherwise, by making local purchases to support its operations.
• People who see direct business opportunities by partnering with the rails, whether it be hotel travel packages, outdoor rail/trail adventures in combination with outfitters, car and bike rentals, dinner trains, co-marketing, etc.
• People who see the promotion value in having towns that are specific destinations along the rails, opportunities for co-marketing, for revitalizing the areas around their stations.
• People who understand how having a trail system that works in cooperation with the rails expands the potential of both; trails that take people to places off the line, trains that make it easy to plan trips without having to spot cars, trains that take people to or back from trips into the wilderness, etc.
• People who understand the strategic value of preserving a transportation system in a region with few alternatives.
• People who realize that a train is a multi-user service, one that allows people to enjoy the region who otherwise might not easily do so – the elderly or infirm, families with small children, people who want to go somewhere without having to drive, etc.
• People who see supporting rail as part of a move to a more sustainable economy.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and there’s some overlap – but it should do for a start.
So, after all that Boreas, here’s a question for you. Have you considered warning the “trail crowd” that they might be pissing off people they don’t mean to?
It could be green 365 days in the year for all I care, at least you’d be shut up because there would be NO RAIL EITHER!
Wow. What a mess. And a real shame for Tupper. A rail trail would have been very popular and used heavily. Now back to nothing. Let the train enthusiasts fund the rail themselves and we can all enjoy more decades of nothing while the “historic” rails rust.
In case you haven’t been following this long, it’s back to the 1996 plan for now – and that includes trail building. The state owns the corridor and they can make it happen any time they want to badly enough. The trail people tried to have it all, and bent the law so hard it broke.
BTW – if the trail plan had survived the legal challenge, Tupper Lake would have still gotten the rails as part of the plan. This way is better.
Larry, why is it better to have a RR whistle-stop at TL on the line to LP rather than a terminus for both a rail system and a trail system? I agree with Smitty – TL will be hit hard with this. Anyone around TL looking forward to starting businesses involving either terminus or combining them have been hammered down. Now, at least for the near future, they will have neither.
Boreas, Larry has no interest at all in Tupper Lake or Any of the Tri Lakes. He and his cohorts are only interested in keeping any rails from being dismantled at any cost anywhere in the country. They don’t live here they don’t have any financial interest in the area and they don’t have any idea about what will help the growth in our communities. It’s all about them, about what they want and not in the least bit about what would be beneficial to the communities here in the Adirondacks. IMO
So this is what it comes down to. You have nothing left but personal attacks Hope? Let’s address your shabby little smears, shall we?
1) Why do I have to live there to have a say in what happens? Do you want me to visit your community and spend money there, because I believe one of ARTA’s big claims is how many visitors a trail will bring. Has that changed? Are you saying you don’t want visitors, and you don’t care what they want if it’s not on your approved list?
2) Financial interest – I have none you say? I pay taxes to New York State – and it is MY tax dollars you want to spend while denying me any opinion on how they should be spent or on what. I have also an interest on general principles in seeing that my tax dollars are spent wisely and fairly by honest, efficient government that doesn’t take short cuts and ignore the law. I also have an interest in seeing strong communities across the state, because that benefits the bottom line of everyone. It’s not all about you.
3) You make a blanket assertion that the only people interested in keeping the rails are people with no connection to the region. You know that is not so – or would if you could admit it to yourself. You are deliberately closing your eyes to all of the people living right around you, the businesses in your communities, that want to keep the rails. The claim that nobody local wants the rails is a Big Lie that ARTA keeps repeating – but that doesn’t make it true.
4) You say I have no idea about what will help the growth in your community? I grew up in a small town in western New York. I was there while the factories closed and businesses moved away. I know what you’re dealing with. When I go back there now, I see a shadow of what once was, and they’re only slowly recovering from a string of bad ideas that were oversold and underperformed.
I saw the town chase the fads of the moment that were all supposed to turn things around, but didn’t. And all the time, they let what was unique and irreplaceable about the town get demolished or deteriorate. What they lost, they can never get back.
I now see a small handful of people prepared to toss away a unique and historic asset to try to cash in on the same craze that everyone else is pursuing, because it will be ‘world class’. (And it looks like an easy fix for all your problems.) Well, when everyone has else a ‘world class’ [fill in the blank] – and there are already so many – what’s going to make yours so special?
The railroad served thousands of riders operating just between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. The Rail Explorers served 37,000 people in the two years they were able to operate – and the ridership continued to grow for both. If you’re serious about growth in your community Hope, it seems really strange that your first step is to drive out two businesses that were growing.
Restore the entire line to service, as is now the plan once more, and the growth will continue. It will be possible to connect all of the Tri-Lakes by rail once more – including Tupper Lake.
Are you saying visitors arriving by the trainload will not help the town? Do you think it will make a difference to the Tri-Lakes when visitors can arrive via a direct connection to a national passenger rail system, and will be looking to stay overnight while they enjoy the region at their leisure? Do you think it would help with traffic problems if not everyone had to arrive by car?
Oh, excuse me. I forget that ARTA claims that no one rides the trains, and no one ever will – despite all the evidence to the contrary. Another Big Lie.
And here’s the thing, Hope. If you give up your obsession about driving the railroad, the Rail Explorers, and every other business that benefits from the rails out of the Adirondacks, you are free to devote all your resources to getting the trail built with the rails. Your trail will be better because it can leverage what the rails do – and vice versa.
Or, you can keep dragging the fight out so that nobody wins. Which is it going to be? Do you really care about the community now, or has it just come down to doing everything you can to get rid of the rails, no matter the cost?
The only thing standing in the way of getting things done at this point is the state and all those who want to drive out the railroad no matter the cost.
While I can’t speak to what the ASR will do, with so much still up in the air, I do expect that with a fully restored line, Tupper Lake will be more than just a whistle stop. I do know that ARPS and ASR are not spending their time taking a victory lap – they want to be able to focus on providing rail service to the North Country, preserving a historic asset, and boosting the local economy.
It makes sense to run local trains back and forth through the three towns on the line as a regular service. (Something like the BUDD railcars that just arrived in Vermont might be good for that.
There would be trains coming up all the way from Utica of course, and Tupper Lake would be one of the stops for those. It works the other way too – people who want to take a cross state or national trip by rail could start from Tupper Lake.
It’s also possible Tupper Lake might be one end of a service for people who want to access the middle portion of the line (hikers, canoers, etc.) with a service running between Thendara/Big Moose and Tupper Lake. There are local outfitters who would be ready and willing to partner on that.
Add trail development to all of this, and the impact is multiplied. Right now, it’s up to the trail people to decide whether to prolong the agony, or work together with everyone else. So far, the signs are not encouraging.
It’s actually up to NYS how this plays out. And it all boils down to funding doesn’t it? All your hysterical ranting won’t change that.
Neither will yours, nor your slanders, lies or attempts to spin away that everything you tried to do was irrational, capricious, arbitrary and nonsensical.
Yes, it does come down to funding – so why are you so eager to sell out the Tri-Lakes on the cheap? You get what you want, so that’s good enough? And you have the gall to call others selfish?
It’s a beautiful Sunday. Go enjoy the Fall Colors, and the absence of those thousands you have kept from enjoying them by rail this year.
“Boreas, Larry has no interest at all in Tupper Lake or Any of the Tri Lakes. He and his cohorts are only interested in keeping any rails from being dismantled at any cost anywhere in the country. They don’t live here they don’t have any financial interest in the area and they don’t have any idea about what will help the growth in our communities. It’s all about them, about what they want and not in the least bit about what would be beneficial to the communities here in the Adirondacks. IMO”
“It’s actually up to NYS how this plays out. And it all boils down to funding doesn’t it? All your hysterical ranting won’t change that.”
Hope, I’ve been reading your material. Larry and others have repeatedly expressed an interest in cooperation with trail construction or modification that doesn’t sacrifice the railroad.
You, on the other hand, have displayed, along with others in ARTA such as Jim McCulley, antagonism and vitriol to any and all rail supporters. You, and the rest of ARTA, pooh-poohed our opinions on things like the easement issue, telling us we didn’t know anything–and when we were vindicated on all in court, made charges that the judge was dishonest, bought off, or useless. You, and other ARTA members, told us we were from out of the area and should butt out, but you still entertain Dick Beamish, who not only has been caught in lies, but no longer lives in New York, having moved to Vermont, and you entertain Marcel Carrier, who from what I understand is from Canada.
And you–YOU!– accuse Larry Roth of hysterical ranting?
I’ve tried to be kind in thinking of you, of not calling you what you have become to me.
It is only the concern of censorship that would be justified that keeps me from posting what I really think of you here.
Larry’s response is kinder than what I would like to give, and in my opinion kinder than what you deserve.
I’m just stating my opinion and position. You are entitled to yours. The ultimate decision on what happens to the travel corridor will be determined by NYS no matter what you or I personally prefer. I disagree with Larry and you so what. Life goes on. Maybe you all should of thought about this back in 2010 when rr folks came to an informational meeting and tried to shut the speakers down quite rudely. Or when NC Chamber Executive sent out an email telling RR folks to shut us down at the Tupper meeting. Or, when Tony requested to participate with TRAC but was rebuffed. I could go on but you’ve got the general idea. Remember, nobody is interested in trails right? We are back to 1996 UMP. In the mean time……
Ho-hum. The bottom line is that ARTA has tried to game the system by pushing a flawed approach, which it got the state to buy into. Now you lost in court and don’t seem to have learned anything. It’s still the same old bull-headed approach that has led us to where we are.
David – I’d take Hope’s comment here with as big a grain of salt as all the other ‘opinions’ she’s been offering up. I’ve seen this pattern before. It’s just another variety of spin.
First she tried bullying and spreading disinformation, and personal attacks. You called her out on it. Now she’s playing the victim card – RR people were mean to her and her friends years ago so it’s really their fault.
And of course, it’s all up to NYS now – not that she and her friends had anything to do with what the state did, does or will do. No acceptance of any responsibility for or acknowledgment of what just happened.
I could be more understanding of this kind of behavior if I didn’t see it happening time and time again, and what it is doing to this country.
I’m still mad, Larry.
I spent 36 years as an auditor dealing with business owners. Accuracy of numbers and of instructions to taxpayers, including what they had to do to be legal as employers and taxpayers, was important to me, both professionally and personally. I have nothing but disgust for people who are inept or dishonest–and who are determined to remain so.
I also dislike seeing people bullied, and I really, REALLY detest false accusations. Besides having to be careful of not falsely accusing taxpayers professionally, I’ve had experiences with bullying and false accusations, even being called a Communist. Some of those I couldn’t fight at the time because as a state employee, you had to be circumspect, diplomatic, and respectful at all times. I’m retired now, so I don’t have to worry quite as much about that as before. I will still attempt to be diplomatic and respectful–it never really hurts, although sometimes I think it’s become a bad habit for me–but at 62 years of age, I don’t think I have the time for some of the nonsense I’ve put up with over the years, both to me and to people I consider friends and allies.
I also dislike being told I don’t know anything when I do. You’ve been through the same thing. . .and thankfully, the court has vindicated everything!
You and Bill Hutchison commented also about how ARTA rigged the game and held undue influence at the state level, and that they are in a state of denial about what they did. If it had been me, I would look to see what I had done wrong. In this case, it’s so damned obvious, well, I just don’t know what to think.
About the best I can come up with is that they just hate you, me, and any other people who are pro-rail. Certainly some of the insulting language I’ve seen would support that opinion.
Hope and McCulley can rant all they want about this, but I don’t give a damn. Their own words convict them.
There is an old saying you don’t hear much anymore. . .”You can’t make a monkey out of me!”
It’s a way of saying, “You can’t make a fool out of me.” I think it must date to the Scopes monkey trials of the 1920s.
It happens to be true. I can’t make a “monkey” out of you or anybody else. All I can do is reveal you are a “monkey.”
Or you can do it yourself.
ARTA has done just that.
Since when is walking,snowmobiling and bicycling not transportation? Regardless of any legal argument people are better off exercising than sitting on their ass. Also Tupper Lake could use the boost that the state’s plan should provide.
They are forms of transportation – but that’s not what defines a transportation corridor under the state land management plan. It’s road or rail. If they take up the tracks but don’t pave it into a road for cars, etc. it’s no longer a transportation corridor and reverts to wild forest, wilderness, and so on. That’s the way it works and under the law the state can’t use a unit management plan to change the SLMP. They were warned, but ignored it. They also don’t have clear title to the land if they remove the tracks, and the completely ignored state historic preservation laws. Any one of those would have been enough to kill the plan – but they hit a triple.
As for exercise, there’s already a rail trail in Tupper Lake and plenty of other trails in the area. The old plan now back in effect should also boost the area. The trick is to get the state to spend the money to do it right instead of on the cheap.
Just because the corridor would revert back to WF or Wilderness doesn’t mean the state can’t make a trail on it. It may not be an improved recreational trail and it may have gaps where easements are not able to be negotiated, but the bed doesn’t have to be allowed to revert to forest. Class 2 snowmobile trails have been and may continue to be cut out of the FP, but the cutting of trees and making road-like cuts has been an issue. Issue solved! Mountain biking is expanding in the Park as well. The only place the state can’t do this is where they don’t own the land or can’t negotiate an easement. Motors would not be allowed through Wilderness sections, but that could even fit in well with Cuomo’s interest in hut-to-hut corridors. So it isn’t like if they go ahead and tear up the rails on the property they do own that it ceases to be an asset. Perhaps not the plan they originally intended or the best utilization of the rail-bed, but it would get them out of the Catch-22 the transportation and easement laws have imposed.
Boreas, that still does nothing about the historic preservation law issues. I don’t think you’ll be able to finesse the easement issues either; leaving isolated sections of rails in place hardly constitutes a working transportation corridor. Arbitrary, capricious, irrational, nonsensical, remember?
If they just leave the rails in place, there are no issues. It remains a transportation corridor, the title issues do not arise, and the historic preservation laws remain intact.
Alternative 6 is still the best use of the corridor. They can have all the trail features they promised – but they have to spend the money to do it right. That’s been one of the elephants in the room; they want to do it on the cheap. The other, of course, is those elements within the state government who have their own reasons for opposing Alternative 6 and getting rid of the rails.
But above, you mentioned “If they take up the tracks but don’t pave it into a road for cars, etc. it’s no longer a transportation corridor and reverts to wild forest, wilderness, and so on.” So is that true or not?
I don’t see the historical issue as unsolvable especially if the communities insist. Every RR in the world has history. Rails get torn up. I am sure NYS would have a way to mitigate that issue that even this judge would agree to. Frankly I feel a museum would have more impact than unused rails.
“One thing I couldn’t help notice from the lists – the pro-trail list described numerous groups of people who had DIFFERENT opinions. This means they are basically all different groups of people. Your list of pro-rail people doesn’t seem to depict as many groups with different opinions, but rather people in the pro-rail group would have most of those opinions in common.”
Yes – that’s the point. The anti-rail groups are united mainly by wanting the rails gone – it’s the one thing they agree on because they all have different agendas beyond that. Compare and contrast – which side has a positive agenda, and which is based on negativity and division?
Boreas, at this point it seems to me you’re just going in circles. You keep pulling stuff out of, well somewhere to try and change the subject away from what just happened. And when you’re not doing that, you’re concern trolling.
You’re not engaging in reasonable discourse here, you’re just making insinuations and throwing out pointless speculation in an effort to keep rail supporters on the defensive.
Justice Main’s ruling made it clear that everything ARTA and the state cooked up between them failed every single item they were challenged on. Their entire plan has been rejected in every part and in its entirety. I suggest you put your questions to them. They are the ones who need to come up with answers.
I believe I’ve made it clear that I am willing to work with anyone who is willing to work with me on seeing Alternative 6 finally realized, where everyone except those who hate the rails wins, and I think that is generally true of the entire rail supporting community.
One more thing. Your insinuation that I need to be clearer on who I’m trying to insult was a nasty way of trying to paint what I’m saying as being only negative, nothing more than personal attacks. Don’t think I didn’t see what you are trying to do. It’s pretty clear who you are trying to piss off, and what audience you are playing to. Perhaps you should worry about who is being offended with regard to yourself before you project it on to others.
If you want to do something besides play word games, putting up bogus what-if’s, and casting thinly veiled aspersions, fine. Otherwise I’ve spent more than enough time on this with you.
Wow, I’ve never known you to give up so easy! I’m more than willing to give it a rest if you are. That way you can continue to comment to others showing ASR’s point of view without anyone checking you and your friend’s statements. As I said at the top of the comments, the ball is in the State’s court now, and until we get a statement from them, we are all in the dark about their next step. Have a good day!
Oh I haven’t given up Boreas.
If you have anything useful to say, any valid points to raise, fine. I may address them or not given how much of everyone’s time you’ve already wasted. But, you’ve just confirmed that you have nothing to say – you’re just here to harass me and others for no good reason – or if you have a reason, you’ve kept it well out of sight.
Your pose of being ‘reasonable’ is just that – a pose. I will give Hope, Ben, Tony and others this much credit. I may disagree strongly with them, but they are not afraid to speak their minds honestly.
You say the next move is up to the state? The state, I would remind you and everyone else, includes the court system – the ball has BEEN in the state’s court, and the state has spoken.
What happens next is not entirely up to the state – it’s up to everyone to decide what they want to do next – prolong a fight that serves no useful purpose, or come together to find the best way forward according to the facts, the law, and the best interests of everyone.
Have a good day.
Larry, In the last couple years since this issue has arisen, I believe both of us have made our points many times over, despite different ways of doing so. But I think what may annoy you is our similarities, not our differences.
I have just read the dozen or so recent posts. The one issue not raised is just how many would actually ride the expanded rail service all the way to Lake Placid, and how would that be profitably sustained.
The latest study (Stone) funded by the railroad and the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) only predicts 7.000 additional riders with the extended railroad. On an annual basis that’s not very many riders.
In the ARPS business plan (obtained only through a FOIL request), I was able to clearly calculate that their full corridor operations would triple the train miles operated while only adding one additional engine crew and only increasing operating expenses by about 45%. Thanks only to this “magical” accounting, does the pro forma budget appeared to be sustainable.
I have criticized DOT for accepting such questionable figures, but DOT apparently appears ready to support additional rail operations regardless of the cost.
So, over time, how many will actually patronize transportation to Tupper and beyond. Beyond the day train up and back to Big Moose (26 riders when I checked with the Conductor last August) this is now “transportation” where riders need another reason to go for an overnight stay to Tupper, Sararnac, or Lake Placid. I just don’t see sustainable number of riders after the first inaugural trains.
You raise some good points for once, Tony. Let me see if I can expand on them a bit. I think you’re missing some of the bigger picture here.
For one, 7,000 additional riders all the way to Lake Placid is 7,000 people who likely wouldn’t have come any other way. Since they’ll be arriving by rail, odds are they’re planning on an extended stay in the area – overnights in hotels, eating at local dining places. Further, it’s possible they could break up their trip into several overnights at the communities along the line. They may be renting cars (or bikes) to get around, doing things like taking a cruise on the Fulton Chain, rail bikes in Saranac Lake.
You’re also missing another part of the picture. This isn’t going to cut into the rail traffic that the Saranac Lake – Lake Placid turn was generating – in fact it could increase it. See, it’s not just about trips the entire length of the line – it’s also about what become possible with the whole line in service. As I commented above,
“…with a fully restored line, Tupper Lake will be more than just a whistle stop. I do know that ARPS and ASR are not spending their time taking a victory lap – they want to be able to focus on providing rail service to the North Country, preserving a historic asset, and boosting the local economy.
It makes sense to run local trains back and forth through the three towns on the line as a regular service. (Something like the BUDD railcars that just arrived in Vermont might be good for that.
There would be trains coming up all the way from Utica of course, and Tupper Lake would be one of the stops for those. It works the other way too – people who want to take a cross state or national trip by rail could start from Tupper Lake.
It’s also possible Tupper Lake might be one end of a service for people who want to access the middle portion of the line (hikers, canoers, etc.) with a service running between Thendara/Big Moose and Tupper Lake. There are local outfitters who would be ready and willing to partner on that.”
34 miles in the Tri-Lakes is long enough to make special trains practical – dinner trains, beer & wine trains, music trains, etc. Tupper Lake is likely to benefit because it has room for more equipment than can be easily accommodated at Saranac Lake or Lake Placid, and there’s plenty of empty space around it, so the ASR may be looking at adding some facilities there. (Jobs, buying from local suppliers – economic activity!) The ASR just got two more cars that are supposed to be in great shape, and they have a grant to build a maintenance facility farther down the line which will further improve their operations.
So, add that into your calculations. And, add in the impact of all this combined with a trail system that works with what the rails can do for it, and vice versa. That would be a multiplier effect for everyone.
So, we already know that a free trail will never generate a profit. (If you’re going to claim all the secondary impacts, well that applies to the rails as well.) What the rails can do it yet to be demonstrated – but increasing ridership seems to show the demand is there. The plan is for rails and trails now, so if you’re going to make economic forecasts you really should include the whole enchilada.
“There would be trains coming up all the way from Utica of course, and Tupper Lake would be one of the stops for those. It works the other way too – people who want to take a cross state or national trip by rail could start from Tupper Lake.”
You get funnier in almost every post.
New marketing slogan “Tupper Lake : Rail Gateway to America”
You can make up all the “facts” you like.
Lake Placid to Saranac Lake train only has a few families with young kids and only on rainy days.
If they used the track for a unmanned one car shuttle, like at an airport between SL and LP running 24-7 every 1/2 hour(15 minutes each way)
that had a stop at Old Military- Ray brook (with short connector trail) Aldi Blue line brewery stop with connector trail- NCCC stop and Saranac Terminal
You could help people get to work and college and stores, cut down on DWI’s and the injuries caused by them
I didn’t point out the idea of people taking the train from Tupper Lake to be funny; I don’t think it would generate a lot of traffic – but I did want to point out the service would be there if people want to use it. It’s one more choice they wouldn’t have any other way. This doesn’t have to be all for visitors after all. You might be surprised who would want to try it. I also think your ridership numbers are off. Nobody wants to believe ticket sale numbers.
Your suggestion about an automated car running every 15 minutes would be overkill I think. Some level of regular service several times a day might work – what if monthly rail passes are available for locals? Is there anything like bus transit in the tri-lakes besides tour buses? It seems like there is, but a quick look doesn’t give a lot of detail. Making the train stations bus stops as well, tied to train schedules would extend the reach of both.
The line is currently geared to tourist rail; it would take some mental adjustment for people to see it as a local transportation resource beyond that. Doesn’t mean it is impossible, but it would take some work. If you want to see that kind of service, then some kind of subsidy would be needed for that, once you get into the public transit business. That’s how it works.
I do know that one of the arguments for a trail was made by someone who would bike to work every day – so the idea of commuter traffic is out there. I have no problem with that – as long as it isn’t used to justify taking out the tracks. I doubt there’d be enough bikers to justify it on those grounds alone.
Do you live in the area?
More people take a cab from LP to SL every day thantake the F*#@ing train in a month
Actually, no one is taking the train now – or the rail bikes either. But when they did, they were numbered in the thousands. You could look it up.
Until a neutral party does a significant amount of research and reports the numbers, it will be difficult to predict ridership OR trail usage. Obviously, anyone with an agenda cannot be impartial nor should their predictions be tacitly believed. And even impartial analysis will never be foolproof. Fuel prices, the economy, the weather, and ever-changing demographics can all spoil the best predictions. I have always felt that what may be better than predictions is looking at the history of the corridor instead and drawing conclusions from that.
Tony you are good at posting numbers out of context. Stone put up 7K as new ridership. Drill down on all venues, including sleds and trail users, pairing out all the locals and focus on the PPOV, and the different venue numbers are much, much closer.
The equation of how to develop ridership, or trail users for that matter, does not begin and end with the railroad alone, or the bike trail for that matter. I will focus on the railroad since that is the target of your question and criticism.
To ask who would buy a ticket for a long train ride when they could drive in half the time, for 10% of the cost in fuel, is too narrow in the scope of understanding. The target of long distance trains is surely not the local user. I agree, after the initial runs, they are done. The target market for full corridor operation to Lake Placid is the rail vacation traveler There are several luxury rail travel sites that offer train trips that last for days, and part of the attraction is the accommodations provided on the journey. Don’t take my word for this, do a search on “rail vacation travel” or “luxury rail tours”. Do you think the Adirondacks is special enough to market in this manner?
The second part is don’t envision ARPS as the sole beneficiary of the rail service or tour service. As an example, in my county the industrial development department purchased a dilapidated branch line at a fire-sale price that Conrail was going to abandon. They put taxpayer money into rehab, and some grant money too, on a rail corridor they own. Then they hired an operator to provide the rail service. The railroad company markets their services and the county markets the land and facilities serviced by the railroad. They are partners. Under Conrail the old rickety tracks hauled just 650 freight cars in the last year they owned it. At last look they were in the 5K to 7K range of car movements and the rehabbed line has attracted many new commercial customers. DO NOT take this example as though I am suggesting a freight operation for the subject rail corridor.
In Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid there might be existing businesses who want to expand and offer services, lodging, dining, attractions, etc. Any tourism-based business should look at the rail service as a tool. The market doesn’t exist until someone creates a demand for it. That is not the railroad alone; they provide a service to run trains. Although possible with an investor i.e. capital, I would not necessarily envision ASR as the entity that would create and offer the luxury rail service. That creation exist with a seasoned travel provider or a new venture business. Now that doesn’t mean they can’t share in the marketing, and they would make a terrific partner, but the heavy lifting and creativity is on the business owners in the communities listed. Of course, NYS would have to provide a reasonable lease term, perhaps 5 years at a minimum for anything to work.
So the best example you have for this is (was) Rail Explorers. Out of nowhere they show up with an idea of using the railroad plant and “Boom” it is a hit. Who provided the capital for Alex and Mary joy to buy the rail bikes? It was not NYS or ASR; it was Alex and Mary Joy! There is no point in arguing numbers with anyone since nobody believes anything good about the other side, but how can anyone say RE was not good for business in the Tri-Lakes? A heritage tourist railroad can compliment any existing or new tourism-based business, but they all have to partner together to get the job done. Lee Keet made a statement a while back that Tupper Lake did not offer much in the way of attractions for a railroad destination; well Tupper Lake folks better get busy! And would that not also apply to attract the bike trail visitor?
The upscale rail vacation traveler spends way more than most recreation only vacationers. How does this fit into the picture of the model AP vacationer? They arrive with a smaller environmental footprint; need to rent cars, bikes, sleds, etc. to get around, and the train takes them away after you have taken as much out of their wallets during their stay as you can. Even if they come in smaller numbers than the proposed (exaggerated) millions of trail visitors, they spend more. After reading complaints about overcrowding on the High Peaks, and problems with over used trails, that should be a welcome scenario in the AP.
Perhaps the “neutral folks” can understand this concept better than those who are against the railroad at all costs. It is all about what you want to make of it. If a new recreational trail gets built, the visitors and users will come out in droves for the first inaugural season, just like the railroad. And then it will peter out. You create a reason for them to show up; the train or the trail won’t do it alone. The responsibility lies with NYS to provide corridor improvement to enable all the tools possible to function. The attraction of the end user, either rail or trail (most desirably both) is up to the business communities.
Larry, we ran out of room on that thread. “Speaking only for myself, here’s my take on what the “trail crowd” label includes:….Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and there’s some overlap – but it should do for a start. ”
You had a long list of pro-rail and pro-trail types. One thing I couldn’t help notice from the lists – the pro-trail list described numerous groups of people who had DIFFERENT opinions. This means they are basically all different groups of people. Your list of pro-rail people doesn’t seem to depict as many groups with different opinions, but rather people in the pro-rail group would have most of those opinions in common. But that is just my take on it.
My point about the “trail crowd” epithet is that it acknowledges no difference between pro-trail+rail (which is what you seem to espouse) and anti-rail people who want all the rails ripped up. In other words, it is likely to alienate pro-trail people who would work for a joint rail+trail. Is that the intention of the pro-rail folks? IMO, such epithets get in the way of reasonable discourse. That’s all I meant by pissing people off that seem to be on your side.
If you read my comment above, I think you can take it that we’re done here for the moment.
Good – I’m sure everyone here will be relieved. To paraphrase John Lennon, I’ve got calluses on my fingers!
Take the tracks up all the way from Lake Placid to Big Moose & put in a road. It remains a travel corridor & it can be a road/trail!
Pasted all comments into a Word document: 60 pages; 19,809 words.
You may want to wait a week and try it again!
ID photos (E.g. Jennifer’s color snapshot) did not count as words.
Boreas & Hope:
Larry is on a roll with most of the discussion in this forum, but since you called me out by name as having “bad blood” with ARTA, (and I suppose I fit the definition of one of Larry’s “cohorts” in a post by Hope) please allow me to respond.
First, I have made very clear from the beginning of my participation in the rail corridor discussion I am a resident of western PA. I am very familiar with the Great Allegheny Passage and the Ghost Town Trail, being a local user of both, years before ARTA referenced these two in their commissioned EIS and trail plan produced by the Rail Trail Conservancy. The discrepancies in the ARTA/RTC impact statement about these trails is what drew me into the fray.
The debate about this rail corridor is taking place on numerous social media sites. ARTA appears to welcome support from any source, in or out of region; they also oppose detractors of any kind, but are particularly hostile to those of us who don’t live in the AP. If outside views are not desirable then perhaps paper newsletters could be placed in all the local Tri-Lake screen doors. In this manner both sides would have better control of the facts of the discussion, since opposing views based on facts obtained through research and presented on social media can be very inconvenient.
The discussion on this corridor is unique since it is one of the few in our country where an operating railroad is being targeted for removal and replacement with a recreational trail. The outcome could set a precedence far beyond the Tri-Lakes region. While I may not have an immediate or direct financial interest (unless we discuss taxes), as a railroad historian and preservation advocate I am very interested in the process and the outcome.
I understand “neutral folks” who just want change, but I honestly feel bad for those that will accept change for the sake of change, when the premise has largely been based on economic models that are false. This premise is what ARTA has used to promote the rail-trail conversion. I have tried to provide opposing facts that can be verified. After facts are presented that reveal the economic falsehoods, the discussion often turns to health-related benefits, and frankly, who can argue against exercise? The significance of the subject 34 miles of corridor, (and the 84 miles proposed initially) seems overstated concerning exercise when literally thousands of miles of trails exist in the AP. The snowmobile portion is understandable but also overstated because the C7 Trail is used now for access to the Tri-Lakes weather permitting; as for exercise, this is also an activity performed on ones rump.
The debate about the Remsen-Lake Placid rail corridor extends far beyond your local communities. I first read about the subject in Trains Magazine, nine months before I contacted ASR president Bill Branson to let him know I found flaws in the ARTA/RTC EIS that referenced trails local to my home. I have opposed the removal of some other rail lines, perhaps in public twice, but as I stated above I am a frequent user of existing rail-trails that have been developed legitimately, meaning post abandonment and roadway demolition by the railroad company. I am not opposed to all trails, but I am increasingly skeptical of the mission of the Rail Trail Conservancy.
As for “bad blood”, I have taken exception to the methods ARTA has employed to advance their mission. The worst of their tactics include personal attacks on the operators of the railroad and its management organization on social media. It includes editorials in regional newspapers in a manner that distorts numerical facts about trail users to a degree that can only be understood as intentional. They have falsely accused ASR of submitting incorrect tax returns and they claim ASR is not in compliance with the 1996 UMP concerning corridor development and maintenance responsibility. These tactics are right out of the Dick Beamish book of instructions for activists to identify or create a villain out of the opposition.
ARTA has also engaged in questionable activities in regard to their 501(c)3 non-profit status by endorsing pro-trail candidates on their social media sites and with their lobbying activities to influence local legislative bodies to pass pro-trail resolutions.
Several EIS were commissioned for this trail plan on both sides. On the trail booster side, in 2010 ADK Action paid Camion to complete a study started by Barton & Loguidice. In 2012 ARTA paid the Rail Trail Conservancy $25K to produce the Adirondack Rail Trail Plan which included local users in the EIS. In 2015 Camion produced another EIS for Empire State Development, which used a great deal of info from the 2012 report paid for by ADK Action and the ARTA/RTC study. By the way, ADK Action is run by Lee Keet. If you are keeping track, Lee Keet influenced all three economic impact statements referenced by the DEC for Alternate 7. ASR produced one EIS by Stone Consulting in 2011, and this data was largely ignored. In fact, the DEC essentially stated they could pick and choose what economic data they wanted on which to base their decision for the corridor.
By the way, there was a study produced way back in 2001 by Holmes & Associates for ANCA for a rail-with-trail between SL and LP, and this was updated as late as 2007: http://www.bikeadirondacks.org/FinalReportSL-LP_Path.pdf Money was obtained and spent on this trail, but then stopped. Rail Explorers economic data was not considered.
You see, rather than promote the trail honestly,ARTA has attacked a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and promote the heritage of the region. Heritage tourism is a growing economic metric. Some ARTA directors reference the 1996 UMP frequently, yet I never see anyone at ARTA mention the pages in the 1996 UMP where NYS enumerates and thanks ARPS for the many contributions and actions that preserved the corridor for the future.
In this era of social media, if someone doesn’t agree with your position, the object is to discredit or destroy them by some method. Even Hope’s statement “It’s all about them“ is an attack on people that do not agree with her, yet she doesn’t even know who “them” (we) are.
My motive all along has simply been to inject truth into the debate about the economic numbers gathered through research. I have made friends with many at ARPS through this effort, and I suppose some enemies with folks at ARTA.
Friends are always valuable. . .and enemies are good to have, too.
I like Winston Churchill’s comment on this: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Well put, better than I could have said it myself. Know what I don’t like? Bullies. The underhanded bullying tactics of ARTA are what has prompted me to speak out. As I noted elsewhere, things didn’t have to be this way, but ARTA chose its course, leaving those us who support the railroad no choice but to fight back. Now we have come full circle with the ruling in favor of the railroad by Judge Main, but I see no indication that ARTA has changed. They seem incapable of working for anything but their arbitrary and narrow agenda, as comments by their supporters here and elsewhere show. Instead they seem to be a poster child for a trail movement run amok. Too bad.
The train is the narrow agenda. The trail has the widest use by the most people. Please don’t pander the rail with trail propaganda, a red herring since day one. I for one don’t want to ride alongside a chain link fence through the wilderness or any kind of smoke belching, noisy train. It’s not much improvement over riding the highway next to the diesel trucks. The bottom line is what NYS is willing to pay for is it?
Isn’t it. Not is it
This is listed as a transportation corridor. Snowmobiles and hikers are not considered transportation modes, at least of scale. Lose the railroad, and the roadbed becomes part of the “forever wild” property. No snowmobiles, no ATVs, and a long, l-o-n-g walk to cover any ground at all.
Not mentioned in the judgement are the private easements. There are over 30 of those in Lake Clear alone, over 50 in the whole segment in question. Those easements are a type of lease that allows the railroad (or a pipeline or power line) to cross property it doesn’t own. Those easements have reversion clauses. That means if the railroad disappears, the property “reverts” or returns to the property owners.
That means the right of way legally ceases to exist. Those easements and deeds read “railroad.” They don’t read “travel corridor.” They don’t read “trail.”
Tear out the railroad, the easements go with it.
In other words, no railroad, no trail! Period! All this still holds even if the UMP is revised.
Now, are you one of those people who would rather see the railroad go than have the trail? That’s exactly what you are proposing.
Rail with Trail, Hope. Literally, it’s the only option now–and always was.
“Tear out the railroad, the easements go with it.”
“In other words, no railroad, no trail! Period! All this still holds even if the UMP is revised.”
An honest idea/question I brought up to Larry earlier and was not answered was based on this idea. If the state WERE to tear up tracks on any section they own outright, and the travel corridor reverts simply to WF or Wilderness under the UMP, what would be left? I see a very long ex-rail bed owned by taxpayers, broken up by sections that were previously easements held by private landowners or villages. Am I correct? I honestly don’t know.
But if my assertion is true, it doesn’t mean the state cannot allow usage on the sections they DO own as long as the usage complies with the UMP – Wild Forest vs. Wilderness. In other words, some sections would allow motors and bicycles, some sections would not. But it would still leave the old corridor open for any legal 4-season public use – whatever that may be. And won’t it also leave open options for the state over time to revisit landowners and villages to pursue new easements or outright purchases of portions of the old corridor to make a more contiguous trail? Since I would assume the owners would be left with short sections of defunct railway on their property, they might be very willing to listen – especially considering Class 2 snowmobile trails and hut-to-hut trails that the current administration apparently wants to explore. In other words, If the originally envisioned multipurpose trail would not be an option, I still see the many miles of old rail bed as an asset worth developing using whatever legal means available.
I guess what confuses me is the statement “In other words, no railroad, no trail! Period!”. I am not trying to be argumentative or harassing as Larry puts it, I honestly want to know. If my assertion above is wrong, please correct me. I understand it would not be the unbroken multi-purpose trail that includes snowmobiles throughout its length as originally envisioned, but it also doesn’t mean the state would be forced to abandon the former rail bed entirely and let the trees retake it. It still would have many useful purposes, they just may be more disjointed for a time. In other words, I don’t see the current situation as an either/or or black/white binary situation. I still see several options available to NYS taxpayers, with restoration of the entire RR corridor being only one such option.
You essentially have the easement issue correct. The private land owners with deeds that provided an easement to the railroad would own their slice of the former rail corridor. They would control the property. They could sell to NYS or not. NYS could also exercise ED and “take” the land at great taxpayer expense and community division over personal liberties. The bottom line is the cost of the continuous trail would skyrocket.
If you are willing to accept a segmented trail, start with one now. Put in a trail-with-rail where you can and see how it goes.
Something else occurred to me today. Would it even be the taxpayer’s best interest to include the trail WITHIN the corridor? Since it would likely be very expensive regardless, would it ultimately make more sense to construct any multipurpose trail just outside of the corridor on land owned by the state? This would avoid the Catch-22 quagmire of the “travel corridor” altogether. Just a thought. I would also think, since DEC/DOT essentially promised Tupper Lake both rail and trail that the best place to start with any side-by-side trail would be between TL & SL. If that works out, continue to LP.
However another aspect of the side-by-side construction to consider is if the state builds the S-B-S trail, yet still refuses to repair any of the rails to the south or offer lease(s) to operators on the Northern segment. A lot of unanswered questions there. I guess we’ll get some idea of their thoughts when the state responds to Judge Main’s ruling tomorrow.
As I recall, the T.R.A.C. people had something like that in mind.
In some places, the trail would be with the railroad, in other places it might wander away to avoid something like a deep cut that would cost too much to widen out. Some of these parallel segments would use existing trails or roads, in some places it might have been new construction.
That really makes the most sense, especially if you need to keep the whole railroad, which I still think we need to do to preserve the corridor for the trail–and which the judge thought was the way to go as well.
I am not sure about the difficulty of a trail outside the boundaries of the railroad right-of-way. It would seem the cost would be higher since it would require a survey, possibly land acquisition, and of course there is all the restrictive land classifications you have in the AP. But your idea has plenty of merit and why not pitch it to your village, community, or even the DEC?
TRAC has done extensive studies and planning on this. Is it time for a second look at the TRAC proposals? (Big Burly, where are you?) I understand the difficulties with wetland issues concerning rail-with-trail, but there is no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water. We have some trails here in WPA that are 5 to 6 miles in length. I know it does not satisfy the pro cyclist or the pro snowmobiler, but it does provide for 85% of the local users that fit the common demographic of using the trail for an hour a week. The 2001 effort by ANCA to build a trail from SL to LP was halted, but perhaps this also requires a second look.
I don’t know why NYS would refuse to make the promised repairs to the corridor or renew the ASR lease. These issues should be separate. The law was broken with Alternate 7 as far as removing the tracks and the historical mitigation plan. No such foul was committed with rail upgrades to TL.
Once the dust settles it would be good for the affected communities to reevaluate where they are with this plan. Indeed NYS promised an
upgraded railroad to TL and those folks should not let NYS forget it. A railroad exists; rail-with-trail segments may be an answer for most of the “neutral folks”. Some may choose to strike out on their own with trail plans. Working with what you have will provide results much sooner than waiting for NYS and additional rounds of legal challenges.
I don’t know why NYS would refuse to make the promised repairs to the corridor or renew the ASR lease.
I left out the reasoning for this. It was simply financial. The state is interested in some sort of recreational trail. It currently has some rail activity. We all agree the cost of upgrading/repairing the rail line is expensive. We also agree the cost of a S-B-S trail would be considerable. So faced with a huge outlay of money for both projects, what are the state’s priorities? We all know that to politicians, building something new is sexier than maintaining something that exists. Will they pursue both projects at the same time or do the “politics thing” to keep the administration happy? It was just a thought that probably shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility.
You’ve created a false picture of how it will work. One, there’s not going to be a chain link fence every foot of the way – only where needed. Two, you make it sound like there will be endless trains the entire route every single minute. Seriously? Three, the train is a multi-user service that will serve people the trail can’t. Four, why are you so eager to settle for less than the region needs and deserves? It’s not just a question of cost – it’s what you get for the money. Big investment – but big payoff.
You seem unable to abandon the idea that anyone who doesn’t feel the way you do must be wrong. Facts, law, the opinions of others – it’s not all about you.
Seriously, there should be no fence anywhere IMO. With all the different scenarios you’ve been proposing there will be trains running non stop in all directions to drop people off in the wilderness and take them to work in Lake Placid. Not that I believe ASR can pull them off.
Think about “where needed” and then remember how much wetlands need to be crossed. Maybe 60-70%. That’s a lot of lovely chain link fencing in the woods.
Gee whiz, bikes and trains are fun!
Just ask the bikers who like pacing the steam train in Western Maryland. No fence, either; people are not as dumb as some of us think.
This is part of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, by the way.
I can say that steam would fit very well in the Adirondacks. . .
One of the few places where fencing is needed on this road is in Brush Tunnel, which is over 900 feet long, and obviously kind of dark inside.
The railroad handles this tunnel essentially as a grade crossing. . .if the train is approaching, the whistle is blown like a grade crossing. It’s quite audible even from the other end of the tunnel. If the train is coming, just wait for it go by.
No great deal at all on the Great Allegheny Passage and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
Good post, but you’ll never convince Hope, since she said she wants the railroad gone all the way to Remsen.
I agree. From a historical point of view, I have always felt steam (renewable wood, not coal) for the excursion trains would be preferable. But that is just my opinion.
Yet another possible option if a S-B-S trail ever happens would be stagecoach excursions. They do something like that out of Roosevelt in Yellowstone. Chuck wagon rides I believe they are called. They go out a few miles and have a big-ass barbecue or breakfast then return. Stagecoaches are at least as significant historically in the Park as rail.
But DEC/DOT/APA regs would certainly be a consideration.
Boreas, you might be interested to find that a group is working on just what you suggest with regard to “bio-coal:”
Don’t laugh at the idea of testing some of this in an amusement park steam train. Those little things work just like the big ones, and even sound like them.
And full scale tests are in the works, too.
Start of a test run with one of those park locomotives, in this case running on traditional coal.
The Grand Canyon Scenic Railroad actually burns used vegetable oil in a steam engine!
The Grand Canyon Scenic is interesting in that much of the operation is reminiscent of what the Adirondack could become.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon was noted for horrible traffic congestion for years. This railroad, brought back to life after years of closure (trees were growing between the rails), helps take some of the pressure off the road system in the Canyon area.
The Grand Canyon Scenic runs from Williams, Az., the last town to have Route 66 as its main road, to the Grand Canyon. The station at Grand Canyon Village is right across the street from the famous El Tovar Hotel.
From last year, a double headed steam train headed to the Canyon–and it’s running on vegetable oil.
Just for fun, I’ll close out with this favorite locomotive from down South, Southern Railway’s 4501, Baldwin, 1911.
In this clip, she’s out on test, following a very heavy overhaul that took years. She looks great, and sounds great, too–nice square exhaust (a tribute to the fellow who set her valves), minimal rod noise, and she has a whistle that can almost sing. . .
Nowhere to reply to Davids comments. Can you find an example of a steam engine burning wood pellets?
Only in tests so far. Regular service is yet to come.
Here is a video of such an engine on test–one of those park engines in Milwaukee.
Just something to read.
NY state law prohibits a trail within 50 feet of a active train track.
So a side-by-side trail within the corridor is out of the question? Curiouser & curiouser…
Put the fence in, if necessary. Many interstates and limited access highways have continuous fence on both sides for hundreds of miles. Get a fabric that is green or brown and it will not be a problem. If exercise and outdoor recreation are an important consideration to argue for a trail than why sweat the details. I still would like to read the law/standard unique to NYS.
Can you please post a link to the law or design standard that requires the 50′ setback?
I keep seeing that too, but nobody links to anything about it. I think NY DOT can answer that – they have a website page on train material.
As I said: ARTA seems to be incapable of working for anything but their arbitrary and narrow agenda. Your comments here and elsewhere just reinforce that view.
I am a realist. Sorry if that offends you. I’m not getting a message from Albany that they want to change direction. Maybe that will change but considering the economic climate in NYS. I’m not seeing it.
There you go again Hope, doing your best to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Let’s back off a little, okay?
There are not going to be miles of chain link fencing through the wilderness, as you are implying. And it’s not going to be like riding on the shoulder of a highway either.
Trust me – the trains don’t want to get any nearer to you than they have to. 😉 There are already places between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake where a trail runs parallel to the tracks without fencing or any problems.
By the way, how do you feel about sharing the trail in winter with noisy belching snowmobiles? Those guys don’t run on rails, so you never know where they’ll be. Oh wait – don’t you ride snowmobiles too?
There’s hardly going to be non-stop trains running in all directions. With 120 miles of line total, there’s going to be plenty of room between trains. We’re also talking about a single track line with only a few passing sidings at stops. That limits how many trains can operate on a particular section at any given time. Trains run according to schedules and under dispatcher control; it’s hardly random.
Aren’t you one of the people promising the trail will be flooded with hundreds of cyclists, non-stop, in every direction?
Then you talk about trains dropping people off in the wilderness or to work at Lake Placid like it’s a bad thing!
I won’t pretend wetlands aren’t an issue – in fact your trail as designed isn’t going to fit in some of those places without a lot of fill. TRAC has put a lot of effort into planning trail routes that avoid those areas. It can be done.
There will be some places where fencing will be a good idea – but it doesn’t have to be chain link. Trails and rails work just fine together. If you won’t take my word for it, your very own Rails to Trails Conservancy says so – and has plenty of examples.
“Rails-with-trails are safe, common, and increasing in number. These are the standout findings of America’s Rails-with-Trail Report, a defining new study on the development of multi-use trails alongside active freight, passenger and tourist rail lines.”
Finally Hope – you can’t have the corridor if the tracks are removed, between the title issues and the transportation classification. And there’s still the historic preservation laws.
If you want a trail, start putting pressure on Albany to do it right and follow the law. The North Country deserves something better than the cheap handouts Albany is trying to get away with. You’ve had five years and more to make your case; you’ve had your day in court. It’s not working. The only thing holding the region back is the handful of people who insist if they can’t have what they want, no one will.
A “realist” would not support a course of action that would run the risk of being overturned in the courts, especially in the face of repeated warnings. Yet that is exactly what ARTA has done. You can’t say you weren’t told. Oh well.
Thanks for your clarification above.
“Larry is on a roll with most of the discussion in this forum, but since you called me out by name as having “bad blood” with ARTA, (and I suppose I fit the definition of one of Larry’s “cohorts” in a post by Hope) please allow me to respond.”
Larry certainly has been vocal in this thread, as have I. But Hope and ARTA are not alone in personal attacks on this thread as evidenced by various responses to Hope, Ben, Tony, Scott, Pete, and myself by rail advocates. I don’t see many of us as victims OR innocents here. It is a discussion with many aspects that are important to each individual poster here. Frustration in trying to understand all sides of the discussion is only natural. I see the discourse here as mostly healthy (albeit mostly ineffectual) as long as tempers are kept in check. That can be the hardest part.
I agree with you Boreas. Your prose and attitude is better than most, myself included. You come across as a guy I could have this debate with while we sit at a table and have a few beers and still depart as friends.
I agree James. I view it as more of a discussion than a debate. There are so many variables and options that it is hardly an either/or type of debate. But this will require a lot of beer…
Ha! I always thought that was not a guy for the very reasons you thought she was
Scott says: ” they started spraying herbicide along the rail corridor behind my house near Lake Clear that all the grasses and ferns and raspberry and blueberry was all killed and they started spraying every year and now nothing grows along the rail corridor.”
They do that along the railroad tracks in the burbs too Scott. You look along just about any railroad corridor ten feet and more away from the rails and you’ll see all plant life and trees browned out…dead from poisons! Plus they have a new device now that shreds trees so that instead of seeing clean cuts where they cut trees or limbs with a blade (the way it used to be) you now see the white or yellowish inside meat of shredded stringy bark where once was a trunk or limb where they use these new devices. I noticed they have done this in Indian Lake.
My understanding is that the railroads own the corridors that their trains run through and that the towns have no jurisdiction over them. If this applies to the Adirondacks then I suppose they can use as much poisons as they so choose!
A couple of points. The tree-eating machines you’re describing? They’re becoming more and more common – and highway departments are using them also. They’ve used them on the road I live on, and I’ve seen them elsewhere as well.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad does not own the corridor it runs through – it leases it from New York State. As it happens, New York State does not own the corridor either – at least not every part of it – just the right to have a railroad running through it. (That’s one of the things that came out in the lawsuit.)
But, anything the railroad is doing to keep the right of way from getting overgrown and clearing brush, etc. has to meet with approval from the state. If you trust DEC to do its job, the public should not be at risk.
Keeping the roadbed clear is not something railroads do for looks. A railroad is steel rails secured to wooden or concrete ties on a bed of gravel (ballast). The ballast does several things. One is to support the rails and ties under the weight of passing trains. The other is to support the rails and ties above the ground so that water drains away from them.
If the ballast gets overgrown with plants, that would interfere with drainage, leading to washouts and worse. One of the critical tasks any railroad has is managing water flow, and most people don’t realize how much work goes into it. The railroad also has a real incentive to minimize how much of this work they have to do – it’s not cheap.
Here’s a video of a railroad cleaning ballast – collecting it up, separating dirt out of it, putting it back down and shaping it…. https://youtu.be/UbfCX3WRL7g
How many “Scenic Wagon trials still exist” times change
Yes, times do change. The only thing old-fashioned is your attitude.
Oh, and since you asked about wagon trains http://www.wagonswestwyo.com
A few, mostly out west. The economics of rail was the death knell for long-distance stage lines. But stagecoaches became the local taxis even after rail was common. We do have a type of seasonal pseudo-stagecoach that runs in the Santononi Preserve. Something like an excursion stage could be in the future for Boreas Ponds or MacIntyre West.
As we both know, People=Poisons. Personally, despite the look of a recent tornado, I prefer the mechanical ‘vertical brush hogs’ to chemicals. But plants are amazing in their capacity to grow in God-awful environments. I am not happy with herbicides, as I rarely believe DOW and other chemical manufacturers’ claims that develop and “test” the herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers for safety. Safety is only relative. If 3/4 of any herbicide’s label are warnings and precautions, how safe can it be?
Scott says: “We should probably ban chainsaws too.”
At least chainsaws do clean cuts!
To your previous comment: “I left out the reasoning for this. It was simply financial. The state is interested in some sort of recreational trail. It currently has some rail activity. We all agree the cost of upgrading/repairing the rail line is expensive. We also agree the cost of a S-B-S trail would be considerable.”
Your statement is correct. The price tag for the rail-trail was proposed to be “free” and it is now plainly understood it will cost millions on both sides of the debate. I can’t recall exactly why at the moment, but NYS seems to be willing to foot the bill on all of it when most trail projects are able to be funded in part by federal TEA grants. Perhaps technical aspects have made those options disappear and I think this was discussed previously.
However, a new approach involving rail-with-trail and the TRAC proposals where possible, or shorter segmented trails, may reopen the door to some of those funding grants. I’ll be honest, I don’t care much for diverting highway funds to trail projects, but currently the avenues exist to do so.
The ruling by Judge Main is setting in and I am sure both litigants are planning the next volley and response. Don’t take this the wrong way, but in my opinion, ARTA owns the debacle and failure in court of the NYS Alternate 7 UMP Revision since they were really the architects of it. Is it time for a new trail group to form and offer fresh solutions?
Your comments here and above indicate a willingness to at least consider other options for a recreational trail, and that is wise since the timeline on the current plan is unknown. The current trail organization will not have anything to do with alternatives. What are snowmobile groups thinking when the comments from Judge Main indicate removing the rails will end the travel corridor designation; what is the risk to losing to the C7 trail? I would hope as time goes on the “neutral folks” would seek solutions from fresh faces.
You only loose the travel corridor designation if you take the rails up & put nothing down in its place. Put a road in. It doesn’t have to be a high speed blacktop road, It can be a seasonal, limited use road. Heck the DEC built a road over in Blue Mountain; The maintain the Moose River Plains road. You can do the same here. At that point it stays a travel corridor then. Plus I’m not cutting down any trees so Protect has no issue & since it remains a travel corridor they cannot argue anything to begin with. The train has it’s niche, why not try to improve that, make that viable and provide BETTER service. Everyone keeps saying that Option 6 of the 1996 UMP is the way to go now, The state didn’t do anything for 30 years to make that option work; so what makes ya think they are going to now. You just saved the state over 20+ million dollars, I can’t build a trail & I don’t have to fix the tracks north to Tupper Lake. If we cannot compromise & you got the train to Big Moose & I get a trail north from there, then I say rip it all out, take the travel corridor off the entire line & end the train at Remsen! I still have my trails going all over the place, I can still ride my snowmobiles in the ADK, But YOU HAVE NO TRAIN PERIOD!
I agree. I am expecting a more moderate and focused group out of TL or SL to rise up and take the reigns on this.
But it sounds like the mayor tends to vacillate some. He seems to want both, and perhaps one of these truncated plans for both would look better to him than an either/or. Guess we’ll see…
In reading recent posts about setback regulations and other unknowns regarding yet unseen easement technicalities and likely new issues with historical preservation being exposed, let alone the additional expense, it should become more apparent why the state viewed a S-B-S trail as unfeasible. The option doesn’t appear to be quite as simple as others have portrayed.
I agree Boreas, it is not simple.
In addition, it may not provide a continuous trail the way removing the track structure would. It may cost more per mile, but if TEA-21 funding is available that may lower the per mile cost to the NYS taxpayer. Perhaps you get 12 or 16 miles of trail instead of 34; I am not sure because up to this point there has not been much reason to dive into the details of alternative ideas. Judge Main’s ruling has changed this.
There are, however, two groups in your area that have put a great deal of time and money into alternative rail-trail proposals that need a good dusting off. Are there problems that need solutions? Yes.
Perhaps exploring the concepts with a “can-do” attitude and a new trail group that is open to alternatives will produce different results. The present group that is leading the discussion has been severely undercut and marginalized by Judge Mains ruling.
Here is an excerpt from the 2001 Holmes & Associates field survey for the SL to LP segment produced for ANCA:
“A total of 43,700 linear feet are accounted for, or approximately 8.3 miles of recreational path. Of that amount, 56 percent are on grade, the easiest and most inexpensive to construct. The next major portion of path, 30 percent of the total number of linear feet, is on shoulder has and will have added costs for grading and safety fencing. According to this preliminary assessment there is a need for 4,600 feet of boardwalk, or about 9/10’s of a mile, primarily to protect wetlands. As seen in Table 3, that is the most expensive trail type, with an estimated cost of $1 million for board walk. Approximately 200 feet of bridging will be required as well.”
TRAC proposals cover SL to TL: http://www.trailswithrails.org/
Engage some people that have a more open mind to this.
Larry Roth says: “The tree-eating machines you’re describing? They’re becoming more and more common – and highway departments are using them also.”
> I have known this for a number of years now Larry and it is horrible how low we have sunk the way we go more and more against nature to further a financial or cosmetic end. The mentality and disrespect for living things that comes from this society in general, and our leaders, is frightening to say the least. Now more than ever we should be preserving what is left of all living things on this planet. Instead we’re picking up speed at eliminating every living thing that gets in our way and nobody can ever tell me any different. You’d have to be blind not to see the total disregard even with all of the history and the information and the technological means to convey such! It’s pitiful what we are doing. Whenever I see these shredded trees and plants and limbs (which is often) I just cannot believe how messed up we are.
You say: “If the ballast gets overgrown with plants, that would interfere with drainage, leading to washouts and worse.”
> Railroads have been in existence since before the days of Henry David Thoreau Larry and they’ve done fine without having to go the extremes they go now. Because we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves and because every thing is business business business and seeking the cheap way out, we’ll do whatever it takes to meet our capitalistic ends at the expense of all things else. It is overkill what they are doing and it is the cheapest way out nothing less. And also I thought the roots of trees and plants secured the earth and kept the land from washing out?
One thing is for sure, if they had used chemicals along with steam locomotives, the dead vegetation along the railway would have sparked even more fires! Apparently modern wheels don’t throw up many sparks. Good thing.
I’m sorry, but that is not quite the case.
Railroads have always needed to keep roadbeds clear – that gravel isn’t just sitting there, it has important functions, drainage not least of them. Vegetation simply couldn’t stand the pounding from passing trains. This wikipedia article explains why so much effort is put into keeping track in good shape, why vegetation needs to be controlled, and more. It’s not a trivial matter.
If this bothers you, consider the far greater effects from all the highways that have been placed everywhere – impervious to rain water, wider, and regular brush clearing along them as well.
The rail trail as proposed was going to be a crushed stoned surface, with sloped shoulders, about 15 feet wide if I recall the plans correctly. And all of that would need brush control too.
For once reason and the rule of law prevails! Thank you to the brave judge who stood up against the socialists who believe land ownership means nothing, and that recreation is the greater good. This summer our group of farmers and landowners near Ithaca NY also put the brakes on one of their plans to ram a recreation way through our lands on the long-abandoned D, W & L grade, after spending over $30K on lawyers and organizing the MAJORITY of our community who DON’T put on superman suits and ride $2,000 bikes through the woods. Like in this case, the little detail the trail folks forgot was they did not own the land. The tide may be turning! Perhaps we can all get down to fixing the state’s economy, preserving our farmland, and spending transportation $ to fix the roads.
You’re right Larry. Roadbeds along railroad tracks need to be clear. This is obvious. But the poisons and the shredding machines! This is new and the cheap way out let’s face it. There’s no justification for it. Or there shouldn’t be if we had our heads screwed on right. It’s about saving a buck….at the expense of fauna and the living things that cling to them. Which are important you know..living things that is. We’ve got torturing down to a science one wonders how much further we will go. I wonder anyway.
I know I come off like a radical but I cannot help that part of me which has a high regard for most living things (mosquitoes and flies imperfect me can do without, maggots…) even the minutest forms. I find animals and insects as the most curious things and always I hesitate to observe them in my travels. Trees and flowers and plant life in general captivate me. I talk to them. I suppose I can be considered a thoreauvianflake! I don’t know what it is but it is what it is and I have come to accept me for who I am. My dad has told me I should become a Jain.
Lifeforms besides humans are not a trivial matter Larry and I’m not here to give you a hard time I’m just saying. There’s lots of people like me who care, who go out of their way to do what’s right but we are the mere and piddling few. We have so much to learn but we don’t because economy or ego or theatrical performances or whatever gets in our way. It baffles me the detachment from the natural world that I see in others the whole of my waking hours. Every thing is about us period….to the peril of us all. I’m not the only one saying this and I don’t say this by what I read or heard anywhere else but we’re in trouble Larry…I just feel it deep in my bones and usually my intuition is bang on! The sad part is we should be smart enough to know better but we don’t!
Many things bother me and I realize how powerless I am, the forces I am up against, which don’t make it any easier but I think I do quite well considering all of the woes. I suppose a philosophy is budding in sensitive me which is most likely the reason why I haven’t gone bonkers yet.
You’re talking about brush control I’m saying ‘we’re out of control’ and we’re gonna pay. We already are paying in many ways, ways which become more and more evident with each passing day. Yet nothing changes! We’re like chickens running around with our heads cut off. Mindless I say!
Thoreau isn’t quite the purist he’s made out to be either. For all his pontificating on the joys of solitude and nature, he used to go into town to eat meals with the Emersons. The world we must live in is a bit more complex than Thoreau would perhaps care to acknowledge.
So you’re saying he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t God. He was human. I knew that! He knew it too! And yes …complex we are. He knew that also. And also the joys of solitude he found outside of his cabin in Emerson’s woods, every little living thing that excited him, including those ants that he must have sat observing for many hours….at least he found and was aware of these things…and paid attention to them. He was not of this earth if you ask me. He was so different in his individual, unique,curious ways. He was good! He was in tune! How many of us are even close to that Larry?
Scott VanGaasbeck says: “The tide may be turning! ”
You take joy in this decision Scott! Why? Because people who appreciate green space and like to breathe and recreate in the open air and among trees lost a round?