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Revised Adirondack Rail-Trail Plan Delayed

Rail tracks
Tipiac-Alain Caraco/Wikimedia Commons
file photo of rail tracks

New York state agencies are revising a plan to create a rail-to-trail corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. It was expected to be presented at the Adirondack Park Agency’s October meeting but staff informed board members that it was not yet ready.
The Unit Management Plan drafted in 2016 for the Remsen-Lake Placid travel corridor to modify the railroad to a recreational trail faced a legal challenge. A judge rejected it in part because under the State Land Master Plan it could not be considered a travel corridor without rails.  The Adirondack Park Agency subsequently changed the definition of a travel corridor to include recreational trails.  The management plan is now being modified.   

During last Friday’s board meeting, APA Deputy Director Rick Weber noted that during his last report he indicated the revised plan might be put forward at the October meeting.  "This plan is a complex plan and involves the work of a number of state agencies. And as a result the staff is still in, in, under review amongst those agencies and by the planning team and the projected time for the release is pending at this point. So I just wanted to update you on that and we will keep you posted as that plan moves forward.”

Weber was asked why there is a delay.  “There is no one specific issue.  It’s just that there are different pieces from different agencies that just have not been finalized and brought together in the plan yet. We have OPRHP (Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) that has their own review of the preservation or the mitigation plan for the historic resources. That’s one element.  DOT (Department of Transportation) has more detailed comments on how the rail removal actually would be working. And then DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) is taking the lead in the overall writing of the plan. Because of the complexity it would be a disservice to not have all of these issues well ironed out before bringing it out in a public plan. But we’re close.”

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates has for years worked to bring the Remsen to Lake Placid rail trail concept to fruition.  Founding member Jim McCulley isn’t worried about this delay.  “Quite frankly I think the state is being extra cautious just to make sure that there can’t be any more legal challenges,  or successful legal challenges we’ll put it that way.  Obviously we’d like them to get moving on it sooner  than later.  But I think once the APA at next month’s meeting gives their opinion I think it’ll go right to public comment and by spring we should have a plan in place and hopefully by mid-summer we’ll be building a rail-trail or removing track anyway.”

The Remsen-Lake Placid project would remove 34 miles of rails to create a multi-use recreational trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.  The 85 miles of railway south of Tupper Lake would be upgraded.  The revisions only pertain to the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment.

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