Light rail is the answer

The Adirondacks does not need a train to transport overnight tourists from Utica and New York City (sadly, it would be a bust). Nor would the region benefit from destroying its rail system so that tourists could pedal instead of paddle to the Five Ponds Wilderness.

What the Adirondacks does desperately need is a sizable number of permanent, well-paying jobs that support family life and hence stabilize and increase the population of the towns. This kind of employment is found primarily in manufacturing, and not in the highly seasonal outdoor-service sector, in a faster Internet connection, or in attending to the personal needs of wealthy second-home owners.

The existing rail line should become a trolley (also known as light rail) for all of the towns along its route—a form of rural mass transit. The manufacturing activities, which the state would have to entice or create, would be located centrally along the trolley line.

People would be able to get to work, regardless of the weather, and without the expense of owning a second car. A trolley also would facilitate travel among the distant towns for shopping, cultural offerings, hospital visits, and so on. It could be named the Blue Line, and it would transform this struggling place.

The recovery and preservation of the Adirondacks’ natural environment became a model for the entire world. The recovery and rejuvenation of the Adirondack economy could become another such model. For this to occur, a functioning rail line is crucial.

George Locker, New York City

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