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Town plans to build bike trail while others continue debate

Teddy Roosevelt once said of the Panama Canal, "I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate."

An Adirondack town may pull off a similar coup.

As the debate over the rail corridor that runs between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake continues, the town of North Elba plans to forge ahead with the construction of a bike path alongside the train tracks.

The town has already completed engineering studies and obtained a project permit from the state Adirondack Park Agency.

Supervisor Roby Politi said he's in the process of merging two separate federal grants that are the last major obstacle to breaking ground on a recreational trail from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake.

And he said they're going to build it without ripping up any tracks.

Some groups - such as snowmobile clubs, environmental organizations, and bike enthusiasts - continue to extol the virtues of ripping up the rails rather than carving a new trail alongside the teracks. Meanwhile, trains buffs argue that the rail corridor be left intact, and even extended to Tupper Lake.

But Politi said they abandoned the controversial idea of ripping up the tracks that are used by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad for tours. The state owns the tracks and is currently not considering their removal.

The town's federal grants total about $1 million and would be enough to complete the first phase of the project, according to Politi.

That would bring the trail from Lake Placid to Ray Brook. The second phase of the project would require additional funding to bring the trail to Saranac Lake.

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