County leaders applaud state's $1 million pledge toward tourist railway

QUEENSBURY The recent $1 million infusion for the regional tourist railway project means Warren and Saratoga counties are one step closer to the goal of train passenger service connecting the North Country to the Capital Region and New York City, a Warren County offical said Tuesday. Warren County Parks, Recreation and Railroad Director Paul Butler told county supervisors that the state had confirmed theyd pay the Town of Corinth $1 million towards improving the rail line in Saratoga County, which is now only rated for a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. Upgrades to 16 miles of rail bed, tracks, and crossing signals from Anton Mountain Road in Corinth to Saratoga Springs would prompt federal rail inspectors to allow a maximum of 30 to 45 miles per hour, Butler said. Lack of such track rating has been holding up the effort to establish tourist train traffic from Saratoga north to North Creek, and Butler said the $1 million grant from the state was a big step forward. This $1 million helps our train project immensely and absolutely supports our plan, he said. Corinth Town Supervisor Richard Lucia said Wednesday work was now underway to improve the track in Saratoga County. We are elated, and this appropriation puts our plans for tourist train service to North Creek back on track, he said. Were envisioning train service from North Country to the Capital Region and beyond for skiers, tourists and even commuters. The rail line now has stop-offs in Corinth, Stony Creek, Hadley-Luzerne, Thurman and Riparius. Warren County Supervisors have recently wavered on their support of the rail project, citing budgetary concerns and failure of the state to come through with $2 million for building traditional rail stations. But this week, enthusiasm seemed to rebound. Stony Creek Supervisor Frank Thomas said that spending money on the rail project was actually an investment in vital infrastructure. With the rising cost of fuel, this rail line could accommodate freight and commuter trains, he said. Barton Mines in Johnsburg, he said, is now interested in shipping their garnet and other products by rail because of spiraling fuel costs. Its important that our counties get together and approach the train project in a unified effort, he said. Lucia said he hoped the upgrades would be completed by Spring 2009, in time to accommodate the summer tourists.

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