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Saranac Lake mayor inspects RR tracks to Tupper Lake

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau heads to Tupper Lake on a high-railer pick-up truck along the railroad tracks Thursday, Sept. 13 to see whether it's feasible to build a recreation path next to the tracks. He was joined by Trustee Tom Catillaz and members of the media.

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau heads to Tupper Lake on a high-railer pick-up truck along the railroad tracks Thursday, Sept. 13 to see whether it's feasible to build a recreation path next to the tracks. He was joined by Trustee Tom Catillaz and members of the media. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Wearing a Red Storm cap and Big Tupper Ski Area T-shirt, Mayor Clyde Rabideau embarked on a fact-finding excursion Thursday, Sept. 13 along the railroad corridor between his village and Tupper Lake to see for himself whether building a recreation trail beside the tracks is a feasible idea.

Joining him for the 21-mile trip were village Trustee Tom Catillaz, Adirondack Scenic Railroad employees Shawn Youmans (operations supervisor) and Karen Piro, and three members of the media. Youmans drove the high-railer — a red Chevy pickup truck fitted to ride the rails — about 10 mph from the Union Depot to the Tupper Lake train station.

“There’s a lot of controversy, it’s an issue, and I want to get a look at it firsthand before I make a decision,” Rabideau said from the bed of the pickup truck soon after departing. “And, of course, before I make a decision, I want to do my due diligence, get all the facts from unbiased sources, and hopefully we can get the stakeholders together and develop a consensus.”

Plans are already in the works for a multi-million-dollar recreation path to be built next to the tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, spearheaded by the town of North Elba. The same could be accomplished along the tracks between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake, according to Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR) officials and their supporters, including a grassroots group called Next Stop! Tupper Lake. They want to extend the ASR’s tourist excursion beyond its current service — Lake Placid to Saranac Lake — to Tupper Lake.

Trouble is, members from another grassroots group called Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) want the 90 miles of tracks ripped up from Lake Placid to Old Forge. In its place, they want to build the Great Adirondack Recreation Trail, for bicycles, hikers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers.

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