New York State representatives were on hand at View to talk to members of the public about proposed changes to the Adirondack Railroad Corridor between Remsen and Lake Placid.
The corridor known as the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor (RLPTC) is governed by a Unit Management Plan (UMP) that was last updated in 1996.
Rob Davies of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), said the state is interested the public’s answers to three questions.
• Should the 1996 RLPTC UMP be amended to convert the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment of the Corridor to a recreational trail?
• Should the 1996 RLPTC UMP be amended to bolster rail service along the remainder of the Corridor?
• What opportunities exist to expand snowmobile routes and other recreational trails to connect communities between Old Forge and Tupper Lake?
The last time the DEC and the Department of Transporta-tion (DOT) were in town, they wanted to know if the UMP should be revisited.
Both agencies have since decided that it should.
Here’s what they learned.
• Public interest in the future of this Corridor is high.
• Public opinion is nearly unanimous on one point: The Corridor is a key to foster economic growth.
• Public opinion is fairly evenly split on the best way to generate economic growth—one half favoring Rails, the other half Trails.
Having done extensive research into various uses for the corridor—and the associated costs—the state is ready to make informed changes on behalf of the public, according to Davies.
The changes the state finds feasible seem to favor railroads and snowmobilers—at least from Remsen to Tupper Lake.
Beyond Tupper, through to Lake Placid, major changes could eliminate rail travel in favor of other uses.
“We’ve had a lot of information to make sense of,” Davies said. “And it was based on that information that [DEC and DOT] decided to go forward to amend the 1996 Unit Management Plan—specifically to be looking at the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid corridor.”
The best and most productive use of that corridor has yet to be determined, he said. Converting it to better accommodate mountain biking, hiking and cross-country ski use could be an option.
“But the conclusion [based on information gathered] is that the 1996 UMP from Big Moose to Tupper still seems to make the most sense in terms of being a train corridor—for a lot of reasons,” Davies said.
Current rail service, provided by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, is to Big Moose as its northern most destination.
“[We] will examine opportunities to maintain and realize the full economic potential of rail service between Remsen and Tupper Lake,” he said.
“There have been challenges in terms of the railroad entity that is running the railroad right now—challenges for them to reach their full potential.
“And that’s something that this UMP amendment will explore—ways we can help improve and bolster that railroad service.”
That doesn’t mean snowmobilers are being turned away, Davies said.
“The amendment will also review options to create and expand alternative snowmobile corridors for other recreational trails that connect communities from Old Forge to Tupper Lake.
“That section of corridor—which is admittedly important for snowmobilers in particular—bypasses the communities. [DEC and DOT] believe there’s a lot of opportunity south of Tupper Lake… to provide connections—recreational connections—for snowmobiles and other trail users [between the communities].
The amendment will also look at ways to connect non-corridor trail systems to the corridor, Davies said.
The entire planned schedule for amending the UMP is contained within the 2015 calendar year, according to Davies.
It will start with the development of a Draft UMP Amendment based on public comment received in November and December of 2014.
The Draft will be released for public review, next spring or summer possibly. Changes may be made to the Draft based on additional public input.
The hope is to have a binding UMP Amendment for the entire Travel Corridor finalized by the end of 2015, according to Davies.
“That’s an aggressive schedule. But we are committed, and I think it’s a schedule we could keep,” Davies said.
Members of the public can email comments about the RLPTC to firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments can also be mailed to NYS Travel Corridor; NYSDOT Freight & Passenger Rail Bureau; 50 Wolf Road, POD 54; Albany, NY 12232.