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Train and trail

So what if the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society (ARPS) and the Adirondack Recreational Trails Advocates (ARTA) worked together for the common cause of improving the rail line and creating trails along the same corridor? The rail folks seem receptive and hopefully ARTA would join in.

Are there tough issues to tackle? No doubt. It will be challenging to place trails alongside the entire railway. In some cases alternatives will be expensive but we contend that the region will be more vibrant with both rails and trails instead of having to choose only one of the two.

Governor Cuomo created regional economic development councils to produce strategies that would compete for state awards. The North Country Regional Economic Development Council has successfully returned millions of dollars to promote the local economy.

Key Strategy #12 in the North Country Regional Economic Development Council 2012 report was to “preserve and rehabilitate all surviving rail infrastructure in the Adirondacks, including the Adirondack Railroad from Remsen to Lake Placid”.

Why not embrace that goal and add the creation of adjacent trails? The Governor looks to each council to develop creative ideas to unique challenges. What if the rail folks worked with the trail folks to split expenses, share employees and collaborate on grants to promote the best of both ideas? Wouldn’t we all be better off? Isn’t it at least worth an honest attempt?

Al Dunham, Board Member of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, recently made a presentation to the Town and Village Boards of Tupper Lake seeking support for a federal grant administered by the NYS DOT that asked for $15M to restore the rail line to Class II status. Al commented that if ARTA had worked with ARPS, they could have justified a request for $30M.

We have to face some realities here. Why would NY State agree to pull up the rails in an established transportation corridor listed in the National Historic Registry? Even if it did, what would prevent the state from returning the proceeds from the sale of the rails (after expenses) back into the state’s general funds? Why shouldn’t we take an existing asset and improve upon it?

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