Phase 2 of construction to begin soon
By Mike Lynch
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is urging people to stay off the Adirondack Rail Trail during the construction phase that got fully underway this spring and will be expanding in the near future.
“It’s a health and safety issue,” DEC forester Keith Carrow said.
The trail has been closed to the public this spring for 10 miles from Station Street in Lake Placid to Broadway in Saranac Lake to allow crews to complete their work. The plan is to be done by this fall.
Use of the trail by cyclists and walkers is still allowed between Floodwood Road and Tupper Lake until work starts there. Bidding for that job isn’t expected to take place until this winter.
Kubricki Construction Corp. is operating machinery throughout that section of trail, and new crews from Rifenburg Construction will begin work on the 15-mile stretch between Saranac Lake to Floodwood Road near Upper Saranac Lake as early as June 1.
Access points to the trail that are located in construction zones are marked with trail closure signs.
Carrow said people have been riding and walking on the trail causing problems for the workers. He said some people have been warned multiple times but continue to return.
“Despite not seeing machinery in a stretch, that doesn’t mean they’re not around the corner or headed your way,” he said.
If people continue accessing the trail, it’s potentially going to slow down the project, as crews have to deal with the distraction or redo completed work, he said. The work is currently on schedule.
“We’re trying to get this turned over to the public as quickly as possible,” Carrow said.
In Tupper Lake, where a new parking lot is being built, dirt bikers and ATVers did “donuts” in the lot, tearing up the recently completed surface.
In addition to the people going into work zones, people driving motorized vehicles, such as ATVs, have been using the rail trail to illegally access logging roads on easement lands near Tupper Lake.
Motorized vehicles, other than Class I e-bikes and snowmobiles, aren’t allowed on the trail.
The 34-mile rail trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake is expected to be completed and open by 2025.
A section of downtown Saranac Lake from Route 86 to Broadway is slated to be paved this summer.
The DEC recently awarded to Rifenburg Construction the contract to do phase 2 of the project from Saranac Lake to Floodwood Road. Rifenburg has until the fall of 2024 to complete its work.