To the editor:
Once again, an advocate for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad has offered misleading information in the rail-versus-trail debate, this time by misrepresenting the costs of building the Adirondack Rail Trail. David Lubic presented lots of information, including information from Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates' website, but his arguments and conclusions were based on two flawed assumptions.
First, his computation of the salvage value of the old, rusted rails was based on salvaging rails from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake, a distance of 34 miles. In fact, ARTA has consistently proposed salvaging the rails from Lake Placid to Old Forge/Thendara, a distance of 90 miles. We have proposed that the trail from Lake Placid to Piercefield (40 miles) be surfaced with fine crushed stone, while the trail from Piercefield to Old Forge (50 miles) will initially have a coarse gravel surface. Salvaging 90 miles of rails, not 34 miles, would nearly triple the proceeds therefrom.
Mr. Lubic then cited a cost estimate of more than $400,000 per mile for building the Adirondack Rail Trail, which he sourced from a report on the ARTA website. Unfortunately, he did not mention the definitive estimate on the cost of constructing the Adirondack Rail Trail, also on the ARTA website, from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. RTC is the national expert on rail-trails and was recently cited in a commentary by another train advocate, but Mr. Lubic omitted that vitally important information. The RTC estimate for the cost of constructing the trail was much lower, $45,000 to $100,000 per mile from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake. The cost per mile from Piercefield to Old Forge would be much, much lower.
Had Mr. Lubic discussed these two aspects in a more accurate and objective manner, his computations would have strongly supported the conclusion with which he disagreed. The inescapable conclusion is that it will cost much less to build the Adirondack Rail Trail than it would cost to restore the rail infrastructure and drastically expand the miles of operation of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.
The above example demonstrates the importance of a formal review by experts from the state of New York. They are well prepared to separate fact from fiction and objectivity from distortion, and their review is essential to efficient use of this state-owned corridor to serve our region. The Adirondack Rail Trail promises to draw many more tourists to our region, create many more jobs, and improve our quality of life, at little or no cost to taxpayers. We are confident that a formal state review will lead to that conclusion.
Board of Directors
Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates