Press-Republican

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February 13, 2013

Tupper asks DOT to evaluate railroad use

TUPPER LAKE — The Village Board is pushing for a new state review regarding management of the railroad corridor through Tupper Lake.

The trustees want access decisions made so people will know what projects to develop.

The Lake Placid-Remsen railroad tracks, managed by the State Department of Transportation, are not currently high grade enough for commercial use or for the slower tourist train traffic to or from Tupper Lake. 

Trains owned by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad do travel between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

The unused 25-mile corridor from Saranac Lake to Tupper has drawn interest from recreational-trail advocates, who believe it would make a perfect start to a wilderness bike path if the tracks were torn out.

But railroad enthusiasts and historians in Tupper Lake rebuilt the former train depot, anticipating restoration of rails.

About eight years ago, Gov. George Pataki allocated $5 million for new tracks to Tupper Lake.

PRESSED TO REOPEN PLAN

Several groups, including AdkAction, the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates and the Adirondack North Country Association, have done independent work, assessing the economic-impact potential of the corridor. 

The numbers do not entirely align. 

Then, in October 2012, the Adirondack Railroad Preservation Society, which operates the tourist trains, announced an agreement with Iowa Pacific to establish Pullman car service on the line to New York City.

But the property, classified as a Travel Corridor in the Adirondack State Land Master Plan, is owned and managed by DOT.

The DOT’s Unit Management Plan for the corridor, completed in 1995, has not been updated since. And DOT has not officially weighed in on proposals.

At the far end of the line, Utica City Council voted 9-0 last month to keep the tracks in place.

In a recent 4-1 vote, the Tupper Lake Village Board asked state transportation officials to reopen the plan and sort out the best use of the corridor.

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