LAKE PLACID - The federal government has awarded $1.2 million for a proposed recreational path along the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Ray Brook.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced Friday that $1,208,708 has been awarded to the state Department of Transporta-tion for projects by the U.S. DOT's Federal Highway Administration under the National Scenic Byways Program.
The federal funds will be used to develop a 6.1-mile, 8-to-10-foot-wide, stone-dust-surfaced path between the village of Lake Placid and the hamlet of Ray Brook, along the railroad right-of-way between the two communities. The plan calls for a trailhead in Lake Placid on Old Military Road and a signed bicycle route that will connect the path to the village and state Route 86, part of the state-recognized Olympic Byway.
"New York State is full of beautiful paths and trails that require some serious preservation efforts," Schumer said in a news release. "This investment will ensure that these scenic routes are improved and preserved, all while establishing a new multimodal path between Lake Placid and Ray Brook. This means that thousands of tourists who come to visit each year can safely enjoy those well-preserved trails, and access plenty of information on their rich histories."
The release from Schumer echos something many locals say, Route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake can be hazardous for cyclists because of the speeds vehicles travel on the route and its narrow shoulders.
"It is currently a challenge for motorists and cyclists to share these roads safely, and the development of this path will improve those circumstances and attract increased tourism and recreation," the release states.
In November of last year, the state Adirondack Park Agency reissued a permit for the town of North Elba to build a multi-use recreational path alongside the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Ray Brook.
The Park Agency had originally approved the permit in November 2005, but the project was shelved in 2008 due to escalating engineering and construction costs. The original plan was to extend the path all the way to Saranac Lake.