Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Adirondack Scenic RR Names New Director

adk scenic railroadJack A. Roberson is the new Executive Director of the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society (ARPS).  He takes the position effective immediately.

In an announcement sent to the press.  President of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Bill Branson said: “Mr. Roberson joins the ARPS continuing a life-long career in the railroad industry. He brings expertise and experience in all aspects of operations, tourism marketing, and finance. His leadership will contribute greatly to implementing the long-term ARPS strategy to expand and improve rail passenger services into the Adirondack region.”

Roberson’s experience includes serving as the General Manager of the Machu-Picchu Andean Railway, General Manager of the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, and President and CEO of the Central Andean Railway (the largest heavy haul railroad in Peru running 100-miles from sea-level to 15,000 feet. Prior to that he was General Manager, Southern Peru Copper Corporation.

Roberson’s statement to the press said: “I am excited to join a team that has revitalized an important economic asset in central upstate New York. The ARPS and the Adirondack Scenic Railroad are major contributors to and supporters of the tourism and recreation sector from the Mohawk Valley into the Olympic Region of the Adirondacks. My family and I are looking forward to working with the Board, staff and hundreds of volunteers to grow this operation to become a magnet attraction in the northeast United States.”

The Adirondack Rail Preservation Society operates the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.

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56 Responses

  1. Larry Roth Larry Roth Jr. says:

    Best wishes to Mr. Roberson, ARPS, and the ASR. The Adirondacks need what investment in railroads can do for the region.

    Trails are good things, but not good enough to justify losing a rail corridor, not in the 21st century. Trails are recreation; rails are transportation. The only difference between a tourist railroad and a “real” railroad is public policy and public investment. The rest of the world is investing in new rail – and in the US. California, Texas, Florida are going ahead – but not New York State.

    The devolution of Adirondack infrastructure is bad for the economy, and bad for the environment. Trails will take no trucks off the roads. Only in America do we subsidize everything that competes with railroads, and then demand they stand on their own. Only in America do we think replacing a railroad with a trail is progress.

    Mr. Roberson faces some real challenges; here’s hoping he succeeds and we all win. There’s room for both rails and trails. Let’s stop fighting each other and work together.

    • Big Burly says:

      Truth Mr. Roth.

    • Boreas says:

      “The rest of the world is investing in new rail – and in the US. California, Texas, Florida are going ahead – but not New York State.”

      Well, at least not in the heart of a wilderness region. Many New York State metropolitan centers are already linked by rail – both to Canada and other states. Where it is in demand, it remains.

      • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

        Don’t even try to play the wilderness card on this one Boreas. You want the rails gone, fine – just remember that you are calling for more traffic on the highways and more snowmobiles in the woods. You’re calling for more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and more freaky weather. You’re talking about more traffic jams at trailheads in the high peaks, and fights over parking in Lake Placid.

        You want to talk about demand? The rail corridor was practically gone – now thousands ride it – and more would if the state would do the investment it needs.

        Save the rails, save the planet.

        • Boreas says:

          Larry,

          Never said I wanted it gone. Just wanted the state’s plan implemented.

          You continue to try to blur the distinction between modern public transportation and scenic excursion railways. They are distinctly different. Is the ADK corridor suitable for a scenic excursion railway, I would say yes. Is it suitable for modern high-speed commuter rail, I think not. That was my point. I think you knew that. If I wanted to “play the wilderness card”, I would have.

          • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

            If you’re going to bring up wilderness, and imply there’s no demand for rail in the Adirondacks, it sounds like you want the rails gone or at the very least see no need for them.

            No one is talking about high speed commuter rail here. This is about the basic transportation a full service railroad can offer, transporting people and goods, as an alternative to highways. NOTE: not a replacement – an alternative.

            If you want to protect a wilderness region, the best way to do it is by giving the people who live in it and try to make a living there the tools they need to do it that will do the least damage to the area. It’s about giving them more than tourism to live on.

          • David P Lubic says:

            Boreas, how can you be of such little faith and such shortsighted vision?

            The Strasburg Rail Road handles both passengers and freight, and does so with five steam engines, of which only one is under 100 years old.

            The Grand Canyon Scenic hauls passengers across a desert to the Grand Canyon with older diesels and occasional steam operations, and knocks a dent in the traffic situation at Grand Canyon Village.

            The steam powered Durango & Silverton hauls passengers to Silverton, in San Juan County, Col., which has a population of about 680 people, of which about 650 live in Silverton. It also provides access to a hydroelectric power plant at Tacoma, Col.

            And in Great Britain, the Swanage Railway runs heritage steam trains and–gasp!–connecting commuter trains!

            Why can’t we have both?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mk-NhjPesc

            I’m reminded also of a story about Alfred Runte, author of “Trains of Discovery” and “Allies of the Earth, Railroads and the Soul of Preservation.”

            He is, of course, an advocate of the National Park System and of railroads, and some years back he was called in to testify in support of Amtrak in front of some Congressional committee.

            A Congressman from Nevada, noting how much of Amtrak’s patronage came from retired people and other leisure travelers, wondered if we should be subsidizing such vacation trains.

            Runte replied that if you wanted to quit subsidizing vacation and pleasure travel, then it would be worthwhile to shut down the air traffic control hub and airport at Las Vegas, which of course, has a large recreational travel component.

            Runte’s comment got a laugh from about everybody in the room–except the Congressman from Nevada.

            • Boreas says:

              “Why can’t we have both?”

              David,

              Depends on the area you are talking about. In some areas it absolutely makes sense. When taking into consideration the route of the corridor and the inherent difficulties of adding facilities, industry, or developments along the route because of the Forest Preserve, it makes this situation quite unique – whether good or bad. Whether the future ADK corridor terminates in Lake Placid or Tupper Lake, it is still and will likely remain a line that connects several villages once north of Utica.

              Freight and passenger service through the corridor didn’t decline because of hate of rail service. It declined simply because of changing transportation needs in the area. Other shipping, commuter, and tourist transportation types (namely roads) either became more efficient or more desirable – for many reasons (population density and added cost of double-handling of rail freight are just two of many complications). Since that decline in the 50s and 60s, it is arguable that more groups concerned with conservation and wildlife have come into existence, making it even more difficult for transportation corridors within the Park to expand and modernize.

              I am just voicing my opinion of the entire situation as I see it involving this particular corridor. My thoughts even on the North Creek line differ still. My perceived lack of faith and myopia takes into consideration the current state of affairs for this particular corridor and none other. What is obvious is that the same three of you regularly treat dissenting opinions on this single ADK corridor as if they are attacks on rail travel nationally and worldwide – which is usually untrue and only serves to muddy the water. For the record, my opinion in this thread pertains to only this corridor.

              • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                “Other shipping, commuter, and tourist transportation types (namely roads) either became more efficient or more desirable – for many reasons (population density and added cost of double-handling of rail freight are just two of many complications). Since that decline in the 50s and 60s, it is arguable that more groups concerned with conservation and wildlife have come into existence, making it even more difficult for transportation corridors within the Park to expand and modernize.”

                They became “more efficient” and “more desirable” because billions of tax payer dollars were spent building the interstates and roads everywhere between. The 50’s and 60’s is the time when the interstates were really taking off – not to mention the rise of airline travel powered by jet engines. (And look what the Northway did to so many small towns and businesses once it opened.)

                We made a whole bunch of policy decisions and investments through our government in everything that competes with railroads. They didn’t just die off of natural causes – they were assaulted. It’s a wonder any survived. Without Conrail and Amtrak, the rail situation in this country would be even worse.

                It was great while gasoline was cheap. It was also fine before CO2 levels started to rise. Today? It doesn’t look like such a great trade. It’s not just about trails and rails – it’s also about roads.

                • Boreas says:

                  Larry,

                  Agree totally. As long as artificially cheap gas is available in the US, this situation will likely continue.

                  As noted in another article here, the ‘ruralization’ of America due to the automobile and urban sprawl may be winding down and even reversing. Another sobering consideration is infrastructure deterioration. Roads and bridges are terribly expensive to maintain – especially in the rust belt. I would suspect MUCH more expensive than rails. Rising sea levels will be another drain on infrastructure spending worldwide in the not-so-distant future.

                  Will it take another global catastrophe like WWII to change America’s love of cars and roads? Probably – unless we get some political leadership that has the ability to risk their re-election to tell Americans the scary, long-term truth.

                  • James Falcsik says:

                    Boreas and Larry, when you mention gas is cheap, that could change dramatically in the near future. Did anyone notice that China opened an oil futures exchange that trades in yuan on March 26? Seems like a small detail, but considering all oil purchased in the world has required payment in US dollars since 1973, this is a significant development. It will take a little while to see if the “petro-yuan” is accepted in world markets, but China is enhancing the market by allowing the yuan to be exchanged for gold. If the US dollar, or “petro-dollar” Is challenged by this new exchange, the US dollar value in world markets will decrease, and this will stimulate inflation in the US.

                    It will not require a world war or great catastrophe. China and Russia, along with other nations under US economic sanctions, are hell-bent on breaking the dominance of the USD as the worlds reserve currency. When the dollar is weak, oil and gasoline is a lot more expensive, and this affects all products and services, not just driving a car.

                    If the economic future includes a wave of inflation and expensive gasoline, tourism economies will suffer, including the snowmobile trade. Public transit will become more valuable than ever before; and most people will stay home to ride their bikes on their local rail-trails, much like they do now anyway.

                    • Big Burly says:

                      Mr. Falcsik’s comment is prescient. It is not only China and Russia that seek to end the hegemony of the US $ in international trade. Every nation that has experienced sanctions has had access to the global financial markets curtailed — that has since Bretton Woods after WW 2 required passing through banks in the USA. The PRC initiative is being quietly encouraged by an institution, the IMF, started by the USA after that war to help nations recover. Our nation will regret abandoning otherwise viable rail transportation. Rehabbing the rail line from Remsen to Lake Placid has a significantly more important economic impact for vastly less cost than upgrading the highway system needed to handle the predicted influx of new tourists to use a rail trail — if drivers of the future could afford the trip. The 2023 University Games in LP have not yet addressed the issue of transportation — at least not that the media in the region have explained.

              • David P Lubic says:

                “What is obvious is that the same three of you regularly treat dissenting opinions on this single ADK corridor as if they are attacks on rail travel nationally and worldwide – which is usually untrue and only serves to muddy the water.”

                Ah, Boreas, but the hate is indeed real, at least today.

                I should know, I’ve faced it.

                Years ago, in the area where I live, I suggested that a modern light rail line should be looked as an alternative to a four lane road. I even put together a paper on it, outlining costs and benefits.

                For my trouble, I was told I was trying to take away everybody’s cars, I was told I was trying to bring back the horse and buggy, and I was told I was a Communist–plus a couple of other things I can’t say in a family venue.

                I was brushed off, and a highway officer at the time expressed the opinion that if the automobile was around in 1791, that driving would be in the bill of rights.

                And here, if you want to see hatred, just look at almost anything at ARTA’s Facebook pages, in particular anything from Jim McCulley. Oh, and he’s a board member, so his position is quite prominent and quite official.

                And it’s not just in little old West Virginia or the Adirondacks.

                http://www.newsweek.com/will-why-liberals-love-trains-68597

            • Paul says:

              About 19,000 people live in Durango CO and the population is growing steadily.

              A large number o people that use the D&S RR for hiking in places like the Chicago basin (30 miles from any road) actually drive to Silverton and get on the train there.

              It’s a great scenic RR it isn’t really a “transportation” RR.

              • David P Lubic says:

                “A large number o people that use the D&S RR for hiking in places like the Chicago basin (30 miles from any road) actually drive to Silverton and get on the train there.”

                Oh, taking people to places they can’t get to otherwise, or even taking them there just because they want to go isn’t transportation?

                I guess Mr. Runte was right about closing the airport in Las Vegas!!

                • Paul says:

                  Yes, but the other comments made it sound like the RR was some commuter line between an old silver mining ghost town and a growing SW CO city. Sure a scenic RR transports people too. Some of these comments seem like you have lost it and are trying to alienate people like me who actually support a RR on the ASR line. I give up. Good luck.

                  • David P Lubic says:

                    Let me put it this way. . .transportation is transportation. That was the point Alfred Runte made to the congressman from Nevada for air service, that’s the point of roads that serve what are primarily tourist destinations.

                    And with Boreas’ comment about the difficulty of expanding options, that strongly suggests you need to keep the railroad.

                    Doing so means you don’t deal with land reclassification, you don’t deal with reversion clauses in easements. You don’t deal with a state constitutional amendment to expand the railroad because anything you do will fit in its existing right of way, and you get capacity you can’t get because you can’t expand the highway system, again at least without that constitutional amendment.

                    And you can make the case for rebuilding the railroad for its environmental benefits compared with any other alternative.

                    The sad, sad thing is that too many people do not have the vision or the brains to see these things. That lack is what lead the state to lose the lawsuit in the first place.

      • Keith Gorgas says:

        Would you not consider 70,000 pro rail restoration comments sent to NY State to be “significant demand”?

        • Boreas says:

          Keith,

          Not necessarily. How many of those letter writers will ever use it? More than once? It is one thing writing a letter to preserve the 34 miles of rail, it is another thing equating that to long-term, profitable, demand.

          • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

            And how many direct profits will come out of the trail?

            • Boreas says:

              I would say none, if done correctly. It is the indirect, 4-season revenue stream that interests the Tri-lakes.

              • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                And they could well get that, if Andrew Cuomo succeeds in rewriting the SLMP regulations.

                Of course what they give up is not mentioned.

                1) No more rail explorers, ever.
                2) No direct revenue from the ASR.
                3) No ASR maintenance of the corridor – which is already starting to wash out.
                4) No thousands of visitors who would come by train to Lake Placid and the rest of the tri-lakes with a full connection to Amtrak.
                5) No dinner trains, wedding trains, etc. out of the Tri-Lakes. No ties to the local businesses (Hotels, etc.) that would partner with that.
                6) No way to avoid more traffic on the roads, more traffic in the towns, less free parking if the trail is as wildly successful as supporters claim it would be.
                7) No cooperative ventures, like bike and rail trips, or canoe excursions into the Saranac Lakes and the other waterways of the area. No rail-hiker trips into the back country from places the roads don’t go.

                8) And of course the benefits of having both rail and trails built around them.

                9) The possibility of full rail service, freight and passenger, not just tourist, if the railroad is allowed to operate year round some day.
                10) The possibility of growing and sustaining the regional economy on something besides tourism. There’s a reason the population is declining across the Adirondacks. Tourism doesn’t create enough good year-round jobs.

                It sad how often people will settle for what they think they can get, rather than what they need.

                • Ben says:

                  Let’s just debunk a few of these so called facts:
                  (1) Rail explorers could run from Thendara to Big Moose or south to Otter Lake. The ASR now doesn’t run full time & never will.
                  (2) The ASR will still continue to operate from Utica to Thendara! So they will still have their paltry revenue coming in each year. 100K in the hole from last year!
                  (3) ASR DOESN’T maintain the corridor the Dot Does!
                  (4) – (7) haven’t had any of that BS in ages, if ever!
                  (9) Would never happen, The state doesn’t see a need for it!
                  (10) other than logging, what economy other than tourism is there in the ADK Park!

                  • Paul says:

                    On number 10. Tourism represents about 20% of the Adirondack economy overall. About 50% in the places where it is the highest percentage (Hamilton CO for example). By percentage the largest part of the Adirondack economy is public sector employment. Tourism is an important part of the economy up here but the idea that is all there is (except logging) is false. In my personal circles I am starting to see “telecommuting” as a new important driver of the economy.

                    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                      That’s one of the problems for the Adirondacks. Since so much of the economy is based on public sector employment (50% you note? – Wow) that suggests no room for growth there. The current article of faith is that government is too big, it has to do more with less, and too many people work for government as it is. There’s the question of whether or not the Adirondacks has the tax base to support public sector employment without the tax money that comes in from the rest of the state.

                      Rails do tourism – but they can also do more. Trails can’t do anything but recreation. Want to diversify the economy, you’ve got to invest in something besides tourism.

                  • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                    If you’re going to ‘debunk’ facts, it would help if you had a few of your own. For example, where do you get the 100k in the hole from? Source please.

                    If you think DOT maintains the corridor and ASR doesn’t, why are there now places on the Tri-Lakes section of the line that are flooding and washing out since ASR has been forced out of the area.

                    Your argument “the state doesn’t see a need for it” isn’t a fact – it’s a comment on the current state government. As for the economy, see Paul below.

                    • Paul says:

                      Larry why so crazy ballistic here? You are not doing your cause any favors by the constant attack format that you use. Calling people “brainless” etc. The RR is in a pretty good position at this point. Grounds for appeal seem elusive given the ruling. I would be hard at work garnering all the support you describe and get them to dig into their wallets and make it happen.

                    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                      Paul – I’m not sure why you seem to think I’m going crazy ballistic here. I don’t think I’ve called anyone brainless either.

                      I think you may have me confused with someone else.

                    • ben says:

                      Paul, Define for me “The railroad is in a pretty good position at this point”. What position: financially, economically, etc.. Let’s see they don’t run a full week/weekly schedule. A majority of their trains don’t even enter the ADK; they go to either Remsen or Holland Patent. The ASR owes the Polar Express Company, the licensing cost for last year for using the name “Polar Express”. The cost for a family to ride a SLOW train from Utica to Old Forge way out cost the DRIVE there. So again, how are they in a good position?

                    • Paul says:

                      Ben, yes let me explain. The RR has a ruling in their favor that blocks what the rail trail folks want to do. One that looks pretty solid legally.

      • Roy Hogan says:

        Funny we did invest in a NYS northway right through the heart of a wilderness area just like Mr. Roth stated, investing in rail road competition.

    • Paul says:

      Amtrak got 1 billion in subsidies this year alone. The NYC/NJ tunnel funded under the new budget deal is a huge NYS RR project.

      • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

        What Amtrak got is a drop in the bucket against what it needs. Did you know Amtrak ridership continues to rise, and the balance sheet is improving? A lot of those ‘subsidies’ are for infrastructure needs after years of deferred maintenance.

        The funding for the Hudson River tunnels is critical – the entire northeast economy would take a huge hit if and when the current tunnels become unusable. The new budget deal MAY have money for that – but it’s not a done deal.

        Meanwhile, while new stations are under construction or have been been built in Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester, and Schenectady, the Empire Service locomotives that power trains between them in upstate are wearing out and need to be replaced.

        Amtrak service to upstate could stand upgrading – more trains, better trains, faster trains. The major freight railroads that operate in the state, CSX and Norfolk Southern are having real issues providing reliable, timely service. They slow Amtrak trains. It’s making New York State less competitive.

        Note: what you’re talking about is a good start, but it’s coming out of Washington, not Albany. New York State needs to up its game.

        • Paul says:

          So in one comment you say that NYS doesn’t have any RR projects then you list off a whole bunch. Your comments are all over the map.

          • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

            Please re-read my comment. You appear to have completely glossed over the points I was making. Your points about Amtrak as a national system and a project in the New York City area hardly count for the whole state. Some things are happening in New York – but they are a fraction of what could and should be done.

  2. Charlie S says:

    Larry Roth says: “We made a whole bunch of policy decisions and investments through our government in everything that competes with railroads. They didn’t just die off of natural causes – they were assaulted.”

    There is a lot of truth to this and if you think about how most of us get around in gasoline-powered vehicles and how much revenue oil and gas pulls in and how the oil and gas people have our erected leaders on strings it only makes sense how trains, or even trolley cars in their day, are/were a threat to that stream of revenue.
    Indeed there is talk of autonomous vehicles (driverless cars) being a threat to train travel in this country in the not too distant future so expect a big push from ExxonMobil and PetroChina for AV’s as time precariously rolls on.

    And then there is our erected billionaire-in-chief Donald tweety-bird Trump whose 2018 budget called for slashing funding for Amtrak service and also for the elimination of most long-distance rail service in this country. Whether this went through (or not) when they passed the budget I do not know. I do not know that any thing that is good for this country or the common man, or for trees or water or butterflies or birds or bees… the neocons are against! Deny this and you deny reality! That Trump and his goon squad would even suggest scrapping funding for rail service in this country in itself should make anybody who is spacious of mind to be wary of his agenda which surely has something to do with empowering himself, the rich, the war machine, David and Charles Koch………….

    I remember some years ago I was on an Amtrak train on a 1200 mile journey and clearly I recall a conductor suggesting “the oil and gas companies” as the culprits behind the slashing of funds for Amtrak back then. There is nothing new under the sun and you are definitely onto something Larry! Anti train advocates take heed.

    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

      The unvoiced assumption behind so much of the trail people’s plans is that it will all depend on the highways bringing people to use the trail.

      • Boreas says:

        Cars bring the tourists to ride the ASR as well. If cars go away, the Park will have a lot more problems than the loss of a 34 mile long spur to Lake Placid.

        • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

          If you can explain how you got to the idea that the cars are going to go away, or that the ASR doesn’t draw some ridership from people who arrive by car, it would be interesting.

          My point is that trail proponents all assume cars are the only viable means of getting people to the trail. They refuse to consider that some people would ride the train to the trails. You can’t talk about rail and trail without considering road at some point.

          • Boreas says:

            Sorry – I guess I misunderstood the subtlety of the point you were trying to make WRT autos.

          • Hope says:

            No Larry, we do realize that some folks may want to ride a train, just not enough of them to warrant the investment or make a significant impact in our communities. Not enough to want to move here either as a vacation homeowner or year around resident. The trail is a commitment to the residents, potential residents and tourists alike to promote outdoor living and a healthy lifestyle.

            • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

              As long as you refuse to admit any benefits from the rail line or the negative consequences of committing to a road-only transportation policy for the region (aside from the limited air service that has to be subsidized), as long as you refuse to consider rail with trail as a better long-term investment for the region, there’s really nothing to discuss with you.

              Your comment here makes it very clear that your primary concern is with the trail as an amenity to sell real estate, not the long term economy of the area or the environmental impact.

              Your trail-only policy comes with a price that’s too high. If you don’t want to listen to me because I’m an ‘outsider’, you really need to take another look at what Ed Kanze has to say.

              • Hope says:

                Ed Kanze caters to a well heeled group of tourists who have no issue with paying for a private guide, excursion or accommodations. I’m concerned with the people who live and work in these communities as well as all tourists. The people who may not wish to hire a high priced guide to take them into the Woods. He certainly can provide his services to include the trail if he desires but local, the college student, the triathlete, the snowmobiler, etc. should be able to use the corridor without paying a fee. After all it is on NYS land and a NYS asset.

                • Larry Roth Larry Roth Jr. says:

                  Hope, let me see if I understand you here.

                  Mr. Kanze’s clients sound exactly like the kind of people you want to sell homes to – yet you’re disparaging them, and him? Or are you arguing that Adirondack guides charge too much for their services? You have a problem with someone trying to make a living in the park?

                  You keep repeating “free trail” like a mantra – but it’s not free and never will be. It will be completely dependent on tax dollars and will need constant maintenance. So, you’re arguing to increase the tax burden on the local people you claim to be so concerned about.

                  (By the way, are you also arguing snowmobilers should no longer have to pay for club memberships and registration fees to use ‘free’ trails?)

                  It might interest you to know that excise taxes on bicycle sales and bike registration fees are being proposed and enacted around the country because those ‘free’ trails have to be paid for somehow. People are starting realize that.

                  With ticket sales, the ASR maintains the corridor, puts money into the local economy with things it purchases, and creates employment both directly and in partnership with local businesses. All that and tourists too. Put the whole corridor back into service, and see what else happens once the tri-lakes are back on the national rail net.

                  By all means, build a trail – but do it around the tracks if you are really concerned about your community and about the future.

                  • Hope says:

                    In my construction business I work with a similar demographic as Mr. Kanze but the difference is they choose to build or buy here precisely for the outdoor lifestyle and not because of the train. Many are returning natives who are retiring from successful careers elsewhere who are very supportive of the Rail Trail and it’s positive effect on the communities of the Tri lakes. I have employees who are looking forward to the day they also can utilize the trail with their families. These are not wealthy folks but people who work hard and play hard in the backcountry and are entitled to enjoy the area as much as any tourist to the area. I’m a community builder you just want to keep any train anywhere intact for any reason.

                    • Larry Roth Larry Roth Jr. says:

                      I can see how personal this is for you. You see the train as a net loss for the region, of no value to anyone – especially since you see it standing between you and selling homes to retirees and young people.

                      Let’s expand on that a bit though. Maybe those people don’t need a tourist train (and it’s clear you really aren’t thinking about tourists by the way you dismiss them.) But this is about more than tourism.

                      Restoring the line all the way will make it far more than just an amusement for tourists. It will make it part of a connected transportation system.

                      Maybe your retirees don’t need or want such a thing (you might be surprised) but those young people need more than a place to play. They need jobs and an expanding economy. A trail isn’t going to do that by itself, and you can’t tell me those young people don’t already have places for recreation.

                      I think this has a lot more to do with your desire to get rid of the trains altogether, regardless of the cost to the community or the environment for that matter.

                      I would remind you that I would be perfectly happy to see you get a trail – but not at the cost of giving up the rails. I think you and the region would be much better off with both – and there are others who agree. Both together would be a much bigger gain than either alone.

                      It’s hard to avoid concluding that the only thing that will satisfy you is to get rid of the rails, no matter the consequences – and they are real even if you will not admit them.

  3. Charlie S says:

    “I do know that any thing that is good for this country or the common man……”

    I correct myself!

  4. David P Lubic says:

    It’s not quite on subject, but this is about the best place to share this here.

    A friend of mine forwarded this, and said it is to be made public. It’s a copy of a letter sent in regard to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.

    A reminder that written submissions are accepted at this email address until May SLMP_comments@apa.ny.gov
    ********************************************************************
    This letter is from Ed Kanze, a strong supporter of trails with rails and a well-known naturalist and guide in the Adirondacks.

    Dear Adirondack Park Agency,

    I urge the A.P.A. and D.E.C., both agencies created to protect the environment of the state of New York, to assure that the rail corridor between Utica and Lake Placid remains what it was created to be originally: a corridor for public transportation and freight movement via railroads.

    The scheme to restore rail travel to Tupper Lake, but destroy all possibility of it between Tupper and Lake Placid, is, in my view, madness. At a time when the climate grows warmer by the day, and when increasing numbers of young adults are choosing not to drive and to drive by public means instead, it is plainly wrongheaded and anti-environment to rip up the rails and replace them with an automobile-dependent tourist attraction, one that, if predictions of its popularity come anywhere near being realized, will require the building of vast parking lots to accommodate the cars that will come to park and bring riders to the so-called rail trail.

    As the CEO and sole employee of a one-man guiding business with clients mainly coming from The Point on Upper Saranac Lake, the Lake Placid Lodge, and the High Peaks Resort, I can tell you that a great many of my clients voice strong interest in restored passenger rail service. This is true of clients who come to me from eastern cities, and also others who come from Europe and Asia. We would see a lot more of these folks in our hotels and restaurants, and create the possibility of having more hotels, restaurants, related businesses, and jobs in our communities if we had the possiblity of rail travel here from Chicago and the west and from the big cities of the eastern seaboard.

    Yes, I’ve heard the tired, straw man arguments that rail travel is a relic of the past. Tell that to the Chinese, who are spending billions on improving their rail network, and to other countries around the world. Rail offers a whole new kind of travel. Those who advocate ripping up our Adirondack rails portray trains in the way they existed in the 1950s. A few years ago, when I last rode Amtrak downstate to Westchester County, the train was packed, and it was chockablock with people sipping good coffee and working on their tablets, smart phones, and laptops. The argument has been made that no one wants to sit on a train from NYC anymore and be stuck for hours, doing nothing. This is a false argument, a classic straw man erected up to be knocked down by the slick but hollow logic of rail trail creation. You don’t sit on a modern train and do nothing for six or eight hours. That might better describe what you’d do in a car, driving up here to park with thousands of other cars at a rail trail trailhead. On a modern train you work (I’m also a writer, and I can work without restriction on trains now that they’ve got WiFi) or play and relax and arrive refreshed.

    The failure of the 1980 rail restoration is often cited as an argument against bringing back rails today. This is another straw man. That misconceived effort was badly bungled, bringing slow-moving trains over a marginal railbed, with no large-scale infrastructure investment and very little marketing. Of course it failed! That was also 38 years ago! America was at the height of its infatuation with the automobile. Very few had any sense of the automobile’s role in overheating the earth’s climate. Cars were multiplying in driveways across the land, and young people were lining up to get driver’s licenses. But times have changed. Most of the rail trail advocates I know have, as I do, gray hair. They’re out of touch with just how much the coming generations of young people want to turn climate change around and inhabit a greener world.

    So let’s keep and restore the rails and bring back passenger trains, and welcome tourists from Europe, Asia, the eastern seaboard, the Midwest, and elsewhere to come here in green high-tech style. And let’s promote the railroad and offer tourists packages that combine rail tickets with nights in hotels such as the newly refurbished Hotel Saranac. Guides like me will eagerly join in the effort. And to make sure this railroad is viable, let’s not commit the monumental stupidity (I apologize for that word but don’t see a way around it) of cutting off the line at Tupper Lake, where at present relatively few tourists are bound, and prevent trains from reaching the high-demand tourist destinations of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. We have thousands of miles of footpaths and rural roads for hiking and biking in the Adirondacks. We do not need another trail. We need public transportation! Those spoiling to create a first-rate bike trail need look no further than the old Delaware and Hudson line through the Bloomingdale Bog. This is a rail trail already. How many cyclists use it? But it could be improved and promoted, and cyclists and walkers could travel along it from Saranac Lake to Bloomingdale to Onchiota and beyond. It passes through prime habitat for moose, gray jays, boreal chickadees, yellow-bellied flycatchers, and spruce grouse. If the Adirondacks need a world class rail trail, let that be the one! Leave the Utica to Lake Placid rail corridor alone. It offers the Adirondack region a greener future, not a trail that will destroy our last best hope for public transportation to reach the Adirondacks’ most popular tourist destinations.

    Please, make a decision that we can all be proud of.

    With thanks for your efforts,

    Ed Kanze
    Seventh generation Adirondacker, writer, naturalist, videographer, and licensed NYS Guide

    • SunnyDay says:

      Is there a way for supporters of the restoration and enhancement of rail travel from Utica to Lake Placid to access a copy of this excellent letter by Ed Kanze to share with others?

      • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

        It’s on a number of social media sites, but I’ll copy and past it here too.

        A reminder that written submissions are accepted at this email address until May SLMP_comments@apa.ny.gov
        ********************************************************************
        This letter is from Ed Kanze, a strong supporter of trails with rails and a well-known naturalist and guide in the Adirondacks.

        Dear Adirondack Park Agency,

        I urge the A.P.A. and D.E.C., both agencies created to protect the environment of the state of New York, to assure that the rail corridor between Utica and Lake Placid remains what it was created to be originally: a corridor for public transportation and freight movement via railroads.

        The scheme to restore rail travel to Tupper Lake, but destroy all possibility of it between Tupper and Lake Placid, is, in my view, madness. At a time when the climate grows warmer by the day, and when increasing numbers of young adults are choosing not to drive and to drive by public means instead, it is plainly wrongheaded and anti-environment to rip up the rails and replace them with an automobile-dependent tourist attraction, one that, if predictions of its popularity come anywhere near being realized, will require the building of vast parking lots to accommodate the cars that will come to park and bring riders to the so-called rail trail.

        As the CEO and sole employee of a one-man guiding business with clients mainly coming from The Point on Upper Saranac Lake, the Lake Placid Lodge, and the High Peaks Resort, I can tell you that a great many of my clients voice strong interest in restored passenger rail service. This is true of clients who come to me from eastern cities, and also others who come from Europe and Asia. We would see a lot more of these folks in our hotels and restaurants, and create the possibility of having more hotels, restaurants, related businesses, and jobs in our communities if we had the possiblity of rail travel here from Chicago and the west and from the big cities of the eastern seaboard.

        Yes, I’ve heard the tired, straw man arguments that rail travel is a relic of the past. Tell that to the Chinese, who are spending billions on improving their rail network, and to other countries around the world. Rail offers a whole new kind of travel. Those who advocate ripping up our Adirondack rails portray trains in the way they existed in the 1950s. A few years ago, when I last rode Amtrak downstate to Westchester County, the train was packed, and it was chockablock with people sipping good coffee and working on their tablets, smart phones, and laptops. The argument has been made that no one wants to sit on a train from NYC anymore and be stuck for hours, doing nothing. This is a false argument, a classic straw man erected up to be knocked down by the slick but hollow logic of rail trail creation. You don’t sit on a modern train and do nothing for six or eight hours. That might better describe what you’d do in a car, driving up here to park with thousands of other cars at a rail trail trailhead. On a modern train you work (I’m also a writer, and I can work without restriction on trains now that they’ve got WiFi) or play and relax and arrive refreshed.

        The failure of the 1980 rail restoration is often cited as an argument against bringing back rails today. This is another straw man. That misconceived effort was badly bungled, bringing slow-moving trains over a marginal railbed, with no large-scale infrastructure investment and very little marketing. Of course it failed! That was also 38 years ago! America was at the height of its infatuation with the automobile. Very few had any sense of the automobile’s role in overheating the earth’s climate. Cars were multiplying in driveways across the land, and young people were lining up to get driver’s licenses. But times have changed. Most of the rail trail advocates I know have, as I do, gray hair. They’re out of touch with just how much the coming generations of young people want to turn climate change around and inhabit a greener world.

        So let’s keep and restore the rails and bring back passenger trains, and welcome tourists from Europe, Asia, the eastern seaboard, the Midwest, and elsewhere to come here in green high-tech style. And let’s promote the railroad and offer tourists packages that combine rail tickets with nights in hotels such as the newly refurbished Hotel Saranac. Guides like me will eagerly join in the effort. And to make sure this railroad is viable, let’s not commit the monumental stupidity (I apologize for that word but don’t see a way around it) of cutting off the line at Tupper Lake, where at present relatively few tourists are bound, and prevent trains from reaching the high-demand tourist destinations of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. We have thousands of miles of footpaths and rural roads for hiking and biking in the Adirondacks. We do not need another trail. We need public transportation! Those spoiling to create a first-rate bike trail need look no further than the old Delaware and Hudson line through the Bloomingdale Bog. This is a rail trail already. How many cyclists use it? But it could be improved and promoted, and cyclists and walkers could travel along it from Saranac Lake to Bloomingdale to Onchiota and beyond. It passes through prime habitat for moose, gray jays, boreal chickadees, yellow-bellied flycatchers, and spruce grouse. If the Adirondacks need a world class rail trail, let that be the one! Leave the Utica to Lake Placid rail corridor alone. It offers the Adirondack region a greener future, not a trail that will destroy our last best hope for public transportation to reach the Adirondacks’ most popular tourist destinations.

        Please, make a decision that we can all be proud of.

        With thanks for your efforts,
        Ed Kanze
        Seventh generation Adirondacker, writer, naturalist, videographer, and licensed NYS Guide

    • Hope says:

      The main issue with the Bloomingdale Bog Trail is that it doesn’t connect to Tupper Lake 😉 or Saranac Lake or Lake Placid for that matter.

      • Boreas says:

        The BBT is a great trail, but is really only suitable for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and snowmobiling. The surface is currently a little too rough/soft for many bikes and typical wheelchairs. No doubt it could be resurfaced, but as Hope states, without villages as terminii, it wouldn’t be likely to see the same intensity of use as the 34 miles in question – which may be a good thing…

        No doubt there are many “corridors” that could be improved into recreation trails. Powerlines and other utilities are other options that snowmobilers know well. But snowmobilers don’t need an improved, well-drained surface as other users may require.

  5. Boreas says:

    Comments here seem to imply that if the state’s compromise plan is not instituted, the rail line will automatically become a thriving transportation/freight corridor again. While ASR may have the funding to keep the excursion train alive, I don’t see the state or federal government using tax funds to modernize the line (to Lake Placid or “beyond”) to make it safe enough for AMTRAK or freight haulers – especially with such a corridor currently operating nearby along Lake Champlain to Montreal.

    The way I see it, if state or federal entities wanted to revitalize the corridor, they would have done so by now, or at least promised to do so. Anybody hearing any such statements or promises? The only thing I have heard involves the compromise offered by the state, stating that it will rehab the line up to TL – which was blocked by rail supporters.

  6. ben says:

    Not going to type any facts here that haven’t already been spoken about or written about many times over the last 2+ years. It’s time to move on! The state is making the changes necessary to the SLMP to do just that: Move forward with the trail! It’s time the next ASR director focus on trying to make what he has better, because if he can not do that, maybe in 5 years, we’ll have the end of the ASR, just like we have the end of the Saratoga North Creek Scenic train line!

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