At recent hearings on the plan for the 120-mile Adirondack Rail Corridor, the state Department of Transportation’s presenter, Ray Hessinger, said that DOT had been “doing their homework” since the listening sessions in 2013. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the railroad’s business plan was on the list of “required reading,” even though it is a crucial document in determining whether the state should invest tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to achieve the railroad’s dream of full-corridor operations.
The plan emphasizes that “cross-platform transfers” from Amtrak in Utica would ensure success in carrying a profitable number of passengers from Utica to Lake Placid. However, the proposed schedule did not provide for any convenient transfers.
Specifically, the plan shows only one daily train leaving Utica at 8:40 a.m., but the first Amtrak train from New York City doesn’t arrive until two hours later. So any travel to Lake Placid from the most populous urban market would require an overnight stay in Utica. Sunday-only return trips entail an 11:30 a.m. departure from Lake Placid, a change of trains in Tupper Lake, and a 1½-hour wait in Utica before arriving in New York City at 11:45 p.m.
I don’t think I am out of line to suggest that our public officials should be expected to do a better job of determining the facts. This is especially true if one possible outcome involves a huge expenditure of taxpayer dollars for an extended tourist train for which there is no demand.
Tony Goodwin, Keene
Goodwin is a member of the Board of Directors of Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, a group that favors removing rails from most of the the Adirondack Rail Corridor and creating a multi-use trail.