The Adirondack Park Agency will consider amending the State Land Master Plan next week to allow the state to create a thirty-four-mile rail trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.
The APA approved the rail trail in 2016, but a state judge ruled last fall that the trail would violate the State Land Master Plan.
At issue was the plan’s definition of Travel Corridor. The APA said the railroad corridor would remain a Travel Corridor even if the tracks were removed, but acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. disagreed.
“The SLMP expressly defines travel corridors in terms of either automobile or railroad transportation,” Main wrote. “Notably absent is any reference to hiking trails, bicycle traffic, snowmobile traffic, or any other recognizable recreational use.”
To address the judge’s objection the APA staff is recommending that the definition of Travel Corridor be changed. A subcategory, Railroad Corridor, would be added, defined as “the fee or easement lands that include a railbed for the Remsen-Lake Placid railroad and any future acquisition that may be considered for classification as a travel corridor, existing either (1) for the operation of rail cars, or (2) to serve as a rail trail.”
The proposed amendment to the master plan is in a draft environmental impact statement prepared by the APA staff. If the APA board approves the document, the agency will hold hearings next month before making a final decision. The hearings are tentatively scheduled for April 11 in Ray Brook, April 24 in Old Forge, and April 25 in Albany.
The state-owned rail corridor extends for 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid. The state wants to divide it into two segments—an eighty-five-mile rail segment and a thirty-four-mile trail segment.
The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society sued to block the proposal. The society owns the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which has run tourist trains in the Old Forge and Lake Placid areas. If the rail trail is built, the Lake Placid train will be put out of business. The state’s plan, however, would allow ASR to run its Old Forge train all the way to Tupper Lake once tracks are repaired.
Click here to download the APA’s draft environmental impact statement.
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