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8. Rail-trail debate carries on

January 15, 2013
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The debate over the best use of the Adirondack railroad corridor raged on in 2012.

The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates continued to push for removal of the train tracks between Saranac Lake and Thendara, near Old Forge, and the construction of a year-round, multi-use recreational path. Train supporters rallied around the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and called for rail upgrades they hope will lead to more train services.

Among the biggest developments in 2012 were resolutions passed by several municipal boards that called for the state departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation to reopen the unit management plan that governs the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor. The resolutions - passed by the towns of Harrietstown and Tupper Lake, and the village of Saranac Lake - didn't take a side in the debate but said it's time to bring all parties involved to the table to review the UMP.

Article Photos

Tupper Lake village Mayor Paul Maroun and Kitty Villeneuve enjoy a free train ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)

"This is the town wanting everyone to come together and decide the best use for (the corridor)," Harrietstown town Councilman Bob Bevilacqua said at the time his board passed its resolution. "That's all we're trying to push for."

Meanwhile, several communities came out against continued rail service. The towns of North Elba and Piercefield and the village of Lake Placid adopted resolutions calling for the rails to be removed.

"The North Elba Town Council respectfully requests that the train tracks currently in the travel corridor, within the town of North Elba, be removed," North Elba's resolution said. "While the town council has supported building a recreational path next to the railroad tracks it would be preferable that the tracks, again, be removed."

North Elba acknowledged that it will continue with long-held plans to build a parallel trail regardless of what happens with the corridor, but noted it would be much cheaper to build the trail if the tracks were removed.

The railroad crowd enjoyed some big moments of its own in 2012. In the fall, more than 200 railroad supporters rallied in Saranac Lake to call for expansion of tourist train activities along the corridor.

In October, the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society and Iowa Pacific Holdings announced an agreement to one day bring luxury, overnight rail service to the corridor. The plan calls for restored Pullman rail and sleeping cars to be used on the corridor to transport passengers between New York City and Lake Placid. The service would be for high-end customers.

"This is not going to be an economy trip," ARPS President Bill Branson told the Enterprise at the time. "It would appeal to the person who would like fine dining and pleasant surroundings in a railroad setting, those people who would not choose to drive. It's anticipated that it would be the sort of purchasing customer that would have the means to come up on the train, spend a weekend or a week, and go back on the train. We expect that their spending power would be substantially higher than average."

Meanwhile, in December, Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates announced it had enlisted its 10,000 supporter.


Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or



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