Main Players in the Debate

Adirondack Scenic Railroad

In 1992, the state approved the Adirondack Centennial Railroad's proposal to run a scenic 4-mile train ride from Thendara to Minnehaha.  The Adirondack Centennial Railroad became the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in 1994.  The ASR website's History page reports on their restoration progress since then.  By 2000 the line extended to Snow Junction, just past Remsen, NY.  There, the train tracks connected with a freight railroad, the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern, and continued to Union Station.  The trains also ran between Thendara Station and Carter Station and between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. (See the map for reference)  According to the website, "Work to complete another section of track, from Carter Station north to Big Moose Lake are underway as of 2012.  The remaining section of track between Big Moose Lake and Saranac Lake need a great deal of work to make them safe for passenger trains."  This section is represented by black and white line segments on the map.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is operated by the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, a not-for-profit corporation, and it is chartered by the New York State Department of Education.  According to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad's website, 150 volunteers and a few full and part-time employees staff the Railroad.  Their website also lists their organization goals as "Initiating development of rail and coordinated trail based education and historical projects," "To complete the restoration of the remaining track between Saranac Lake and Carter Station, north of Old Forge," and "To restore service between the end points of Lake Placid and Utica."  The first goal vaguely mentions "coordinated trail" initiatives, but it fails to explain what this might include.  The third goal, however, is probably the most relevant to the rails to trails debate.  Clearly, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad aims to restore tracks and train service along the entirety of the Remsen - Lake Placid cooridor.  This goal makes the Adirondack Scenic Railroad's agenda incompatible with trail construction.  Only the alternative proposed by the Trails with Rails Action Committee (see the "Proposed Alternatives" page) accomodates the Railroad's vision and some version of continuous trails. 

This map is from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad's website.  Eventually, the ASR hopes to have the entire Corridor running as a functioning railroad.  (Image is a link.)

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates

The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) is a New York based not-for-profit corporation. According to the ARTA's website, their mission is to create "a world class recreation trail from Lake Placid to Old Forge, with a first implementation between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake."  This would not impact the train tracks from Utica to Old Forge (Thendara).  However, as is displayed in the DEC’s map of the Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor, the portion of the corridor from Old Forge to Lake Placid constitutes the large majority of the corridor.

This image is from ARTA's website.  Below the image on ARTA's website, the caption reads, "The trail will initially run from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake via Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, Lake Clear, and Floodwood.  A second stage will connect Tupper Lake to Old Forge." (Image is a link.)

Various New York Snowmobile Assocations

A "snowmobile coordinating group" is identified in the 1996 UMP as an organizing group that did volunteer trail maintenance on the Corridor (UMP 33). At the time of the creation of this page the New York State Snowmobiling Association has a notice about the comment period for amending the UMP on its homepage. The snowmobiliers maintain usage rights to the Corridor in the winter and it is an important link between different parts of the park (see "Transportation in the Park" page). It is indisputed that snowmobiling is essentail for winter tourism, making this a key issue for Corridor use (UMP 90).

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Department of Transportation (DOT)

The amendment process for the 1996 UMP is a joint effort between DEC and DOT. These two agencies also have a vested interest in the Corridor as they have spent time and money doing some signing and other minimal maintenance on the Corridor, as well as the effort to create the UMP. Also, the agencies have spent some federal money improving the Corridor for rail use. Finally, as both are state agencies, it is their job to promote the best use of the Corridor.  A WKTV article cites DOT Commissioner McDonald as saying, "Based on public feedback, DOT will work with the DEC to review the Unit Management Plan for the region in order to engage local communities about the best future use of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor.  The Department of Transportation is focused on providing a safe transportation system that meets the needs of the communities it serves and helps to support regional economies.  Reviewing the UMP will help us do that for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor."