Press-Republican

Environment

June 7, 2013

State to review railroad-line management plan

RAY BROOK — After months of pressure from both sides of the issue, the state will review use of the Lake Placid-Remsen Travel Corridor.

The Unit Management Plan is the defining land-use document for the single railroad line connecting Utica to Lake Placid.



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Completed in 1996, the plan has become the center of an ongoing dispute pitting railroad use against recreational-trail use on the 119-mile line, much of which is inside the Adirondack Park.

In a joint press release issued Thursday, the State Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Conservation said they will launch a public review process to appraise use of the Travel Corridor.

PUSH TO REMOVE RAILS

Unique among Adirondack land-use classifications, a Travel Corridor allows motorized use.

Trains currently operated on either end of the line by the Adirondack Railroad Preservation Society provide scenic tours for communities in Utica, Thendara, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.

But train tracks in between have not been updated for commercial traffic in decades.

In the past few years, Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, based largely in Saranac Lake, has launched an initiative calling to remove the rail lines.

The group topped 10,000 members in its effort to restructure the travel corridor for use as a bike/hiking/recreational path.

The discussion has been fervent at times as economic-development interests have lobbied to improve the rails, while still allowing recreational use.

‘BEST FUTURE USE’

The corridor is owned by the state, and the railroad line was placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1993.

“Based on public feedback, DOT will work with the DEC to review the Unit Management Plan for the region in order to engage local communities about the best future use of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor,” DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement. 

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