Press-Republican

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December 28, 2011

Trail proponents to study railroad's economic impact

(Continued)

TUPPER LAKE — Supporters for the railroad have suggested developing a "rail and trail" system that would allow the train to continue its runs from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake and possibly expand to Tupper Lake while creating a recreation trail to run parallel to the rail lines.

Beamish feels that option is not viable, citing parts of the line that are too narrow to hold a complementary trail and saying it would be cost-prohibitive to create.

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK

Several political, economic and historic organizations across the region have voiced support for the railroad and are not convinced that a recreation trail would be a viable alternative.

"We're interested in protecting special historic sites in the Adirondack region, and the rail line is listed on the National Register of Historic Places," said Steven Englehart, executive director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage.

"You're looking at a place that is quite big, more than 11,000 acres, and includes several pretty significant historical structures.

"Our concern is that the state's Historical Preservation Office has said that removing the rails will have an adverse impact on this historical resource.

"We don't know as much about the economic impacts of a recreation trail versus an active railroad use, but it's interesting to note that both major economic-development organizations have publicly stated they are not in favor of removing the rail lines."

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council recently released a comprehensive strategic plan that called for retaining and revitalizing rail corridors across the region, and the Adirondack North Country Association has also voiced support for the rail line.

Email Jeff Meyers at: jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

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