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Monday, April 8, 2019

Four bids received for rail line to North Creek

Warren County and the Town of Corinth have received four bids for the 40-mile rail line that runs from Saratoga to North Creek in the southern Adirondacks, where tourist trains stopped running last year.

Bidders were expected to propose freight and possible passenger excursions, maintain the tracks and infrastructure, and its connections to Canadian Pacific and points south, according to the bid request. One cited objective was recognition of the tourism potential — for example rail bikes, snowmobiling and trails — on the local economy.

The municipalities that own the line want the bidder to have a licensing agreement with a train operator for at least a five years and say they anticipate a minimum bid of $2 million.

Of the four responses from railroad companies to the request for proposals, three that apparently met the requirements, said Matt Simpson, Horicon town supervisor who chairs the Warren County Public Works Committee.

“Right now we’re evaluating whether they answered the RFP correctly — what is there,” Simpson said.  “Once we canvass these proposals, and we’ve got some questions already developed, clarifications, so that we know what’s actually being said there, and we’ll go from there.”

The Saratoga and North Creek Railway, a subsidiary of Iowa Pacific, stopped passenger service a year ago, its owner saying it couldn’t sustain the business without freight service it had once anticipated from the Tahawus mine on the 30 miles of tracks it owned farther north, or the ability to store idled tankers and freight cars on its tracks. State officials and environmentalists objected to that storage in New York’s forest preserve and the cars were removed last spring.

A Denver-based railroad operator, OmniTRAX, has expressed interest in both sections of track and operating freight service to carry stone used in construction from the tailings at the former Tahawus titanium mine in Newcomb.  The rail company recently told federal authorities that purchase negotiations are continuing,

OmniTRAX was one of the four companies that submitted a proposal for the rail line farther south, Simpson said.

Currently that stone is shipped by truck.

Meanwhile, the company based in North Creek offering “rail bike” outings on the northern tracks is advertising excursions again this year starting in May.

Michael Dupee, one of Revolution Rail’s co-founders, told the Glens Falls Post Star that the company and Iowa Pacific, which had a contract dispute that led to a lawsuit, have reached an agreement for the 2019 season.

Riders pedal four-wheeled vehicles six miles round-trip on tracks along the Hudson River and over a bridge, according to the company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Virtanen

Michael Virtanen joined the Adirondack Explorer staff in March, asked to take an in-depth look at certain places, issues and unanswered questions in the Adirondack Park. He worked previously as a correspondent for the Associated Press in Morgantown, West Virginia, and at the Capitol in Albany for the wire service and for daily newspapers in Albany, Utica and Amsterdam, N.Y. He had been an occasional free-lance contributor to the Explorer and went on some outings with then-Editor Phil Brown, who once led him up the popular rock climb Pete’s Farewell on Pitchoff Chimney Cliff overlooking the Cascade lakes and Route 73 outside Lake Placid.

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One Response

  1. Curt Austin says:

    Here’s the perspective on this from a trail proponent: the situation has never been better. The sentiment of Warren County government is that it should be a trail, but the federal government would have to approve, and they won’t until there is no potential railroad use. Whoever the owner happens to be when that becomes demonstrably true will want its salvage value (about $4M altogether). They will not be bidding more than that.

    The list price for bulk cargo like stone is about $0.05/ton-mile, but might be negotiated down to maybe $0.03. Gravel weighs about 1.5 tons per cubic yard. Getting it down towards NYC is 250 miles, so $11 per yard. That’s a lot compared to the cost of gravel around here – I think municipalities pay about $8. Will Mitchell Stone find a customer who will pay an extra $11? NL Industries couldn’t, Iowa Pacific couldn’t. Stone is not scarce.

    It’s going to become a trail.

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