Potential Compromises

While many individuals and organizations fiercely advocate either the refurbishment of the railroad or the creation of trails, others hope to see some sort of compromise.  These potential compromises come in different forms, and some are more likely than others.

Let It Be

While quickly dismissed by the DEC this is perhaps the easiest option and fits best with the idea of a park. However, as almost every party involved has interest in developing the corridor, this option is just as unlikely to be chosen in 2015 as in 1996.

Rails and trails!

Trails with Rails Action Committee

As discussed in the "Main Players" section, the two main organizations involved in the current debate are the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), both of which are generally uncompromising.  However, another organization, the Trails with Rails Action Committee (TRAC) proposes an alternative.  The TRAC calls for maintaining the tracks and building a network of parallel trails.  Where this is not feasible due to a variety of factors including space constraints and fragile habitats (i.e. wetlands), TRAC proposes building trails nearby.  In this way, they hope for the construction of a continuous trail along the length of the corridor.

While the TRAC's plan seems to present a suitable compromise, it does not fit with the ARTA's vision for the corridor.  Phil Brown, in his article "Rails with Trails: Win-Win or Apples and Oranges?" quotes Tony Goodwin, of the ARTA board, as saying, "What we're looking for is something that's totally different from all other Adirondack trails."  What this means, essentially, is creating a trail surfaced with hard-packed crushed stone and/or stone dust.  According to Brown's article, even paving part or all of the trail has not been ruled out by the state.  The DEC and DOT have not officially aligned with either the ARTA or the ASR, but they have suggested that the trail option would be accessible to bikes (including road bikes, depending on the surface), wheelchairs, baby strollers, and snowmobiles in the winter. 

The TRAC's proposed trails, on the other hand, would not be so universally accessible.  Since the TRAC proposes building trails in nearby land where parallel trails and rails are not sustainable and since it's illegal to build road bike trails in the Preserve, the trails would be similar to hiking trails and would likely only accomodate mountain bikes and hikers. They believe that parallel trails and rails could coexist between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake but that the trails would diverge from the corridor in several places between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. (See map of the corridor for reference.)  Snowmobilers form another group with a vested interest in trail construction.  Brown reports that Jim McCulley, the president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club, claims that the spur trails proposed by TRAC would be incondusive to quality snowmobiling.

Despite the apparent shortcomings of the TRAC's plan, Rob Davies, the head of the DEC's Division of Lands and Forests, said the state will considor TRAC's idea before forming any final conclusions.

This map explains TRAC's proposal.  It is from www.trailswithrails.org.  (Image is a link.)

Next Stop Tupper Lake

Another organization, Next Stop Tupper Lake, also advocates a rails and trails alternative, with particular emphasis on creating a trail from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid.  Their website summarizes their mission as "organized to restore and reopen rail service initially between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, and eventually from Remsen to Lake Placid."

As the 1996 Unit Management Plan discusses, though, the topography along certain stretches of the corridor makes an unbroken parrelel trail unrealistic.  In some areas, the corridor is too narrow to accomodate both, and in others the railroad passes through wetlands, which are too sensitive to support trails.

This image is from Next Stop Tupper Lake's website, an organization that advocates constructing roads parallel to and nearby the Corridor's railroad tracks. (Image is linked.)


The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation have suggested another possible compromise.  It would entail repairing the railroad between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and converting the corridor to trails between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.  An October 20th press release read, "Specifically, DEC and DOT will develop a draft UMP amendment to evaluate the use of the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment for a recreational trail.  The agencies are also examining opportunities to maintain and realize the full economic potential of rail service from Utica to Tupper Lake, and reviewing options to create and expand alternative snowmobile corridors, and other trails, to connect communities from Old Forge to Tupper Lake on existing state lands and conservation easements." In some ways, this seems like an attractive compromise.  However, many Adirondack residents prefers a railroad over recreational trails because they feel that it would encourage tourists traveling from Utica to Lake Placid to stop and visit some less frequented towns along the way.  An incomplete railroad would fail to attract tourists interested in traveling through these towns on their way to Lake Placid and the High Peaks.