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Rail-trail study: Doing something better than nothing

A local not-for-profit organization unveiled a study last night that shows a recreational path between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake would be more beneficial to the economy than extending the scenic rail line to Tupper Lake.

But creating a multi-use trail connecting the three Tri-Lakes communities would also be more costly.

AdkAction is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit based in Saranac Lake. The group commissioned the study in order to examine the construction costs and economic impacts of either extending the scenic railway or converting it to a recreational corridor for skiers, snowmobilers, hikers and bikers.

The group's chairman, David Wolff, says one thing is clear following the release of the study: doing something is better than doing nothing.

"Either option is a positive economic plus for the communities - so pick one," he said. "Do something. Don't let it just lie foul."

The rail corridor has been a hot topic in the Tri-Lakes region for years.

Supporters of the railway say the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a significant tourist attraction that would benefit from overhauling the unused rail line between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

Opponents of the railroad say more tourists would flock to the Tri-Lakes if the corridor could be used for a variety of recreational opportunities.

The study was conducted by Camoin Associates and Barton & Logudice.

Barton & Logudice utilized existing state Department of Transportation documentation and studied similar conversion projects in New York to establish construction costs for three scenarios: upgrading the line between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid; permanently converting the rail line to a multi-use, recreational path; and temporarily converting the line to a trail and storing the rails for possible future use.

Ted Kolankowski is senior land use planner for Barton & Logudice.

"What we tried to do in the estimates is develop a consistent basis for all three scenarios," he said. "We couldn't really base it on actual local numbers or numbers that somebody gave us - we tried to base it on national indexes that were reliable, that we use commonly when we're doing our own estimates."

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