State agencies give project updates on the Lake Placid/Tupper Lake rail trail, and rail rehab from Big Moose to Tupper
Editor’s note: Explorer contributor Tim Rowland touched base with representatives from New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation on how two simultaneous projects are coming along: The rehabilitation of the rail line between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and the creation of a trail connecting Tupper Lake and Lake Placid on the former rail bed.
Q: Lots of people have seen work being performed on the Placid to Tupper rail trail (also known as the Adirondack Rail Trail), and are eager to learn when it will be ready for use. Can you give us an update on where the project stands now, and a targeted completion date?
A: There is a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation for a completed rail trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid.
At this stage in the project, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has jurisdiction of the entire corridor. The contractor is expected to complete the rail infrastructure removal work this fall, and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) expects to obtain jurisdiction of the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment after the contractor is finished.
In the meantime, DEC and the Office of General Services (OGS) are working on obtaining the necessary wetlands permits from the APA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additional information and details on the length, start/end points, and number of phases in the development of the trail will be determined by the terms of the wetland permits and completion of the engineering and design.
Once the track has been removed, is it permissible to ride or hike on the trail before its official opening? If so, what kind of bike is recommended prior to resurfacing (hybrid, fat tire, etc.)?
To protect public safety, recreational use is strongly discouraged due to uneven terrain. DEC is developing guidance for recreational use during the transition period between transfer of jurisdiction and the completion of the trail.
When will the scenic railroad portion of the route be completed?
DOT projects the rehabilitation project between Big Moose and Tupper Lake will be completed this fall. DOT has conducted additional public outreach on the construction of new platforms and rail sidings at Beaver River, Sabattis and Tupper Lake. Based on public comments received, DOT is currently assessing the length and height of the platform design. Construction is expected to commence in the spring of 2022 and be completed during the fall of 2023.
Why is the bike trail building going to take longer than the rail rehab south of Tupper Lake (assuming that’s still the case)?
The construction of the Adirondack Rail Trail requires engineering design work and wetlands permitting that is not required for the rail rehabilitation project.
What is being done with the rails and ties (are they being recycled/upcycled/mulched/sold for scrap?)
Ties that are in serviceable condition are being salvaged and reused for railroad purposes. Ties that can’t be reused are ground into wood chips on site and safely disposed of at a DEC approved facility.
More rail trail coverage
PROJECT BREAKS GROUND: Work began last fall. READ MORE
TRAIL POTENTIAL: Former Explorer editor Phil Brown checked out a portion of the trail READ MORE
ANOTHER TRAIL: A trip on the historic Grasse River rail trail in Cranberry Lake READ MORE
A LOOK BACK: Peruse all the stories in our archive tagged “rail trail.” READ MORE
Photo by Mike Lynch
Are you going to compete the trail in sections, so people can start using it sooner?
The trail will be completed in sections.
What about other trail infrastructure (parking lots, access points, etc), where are they going to be located — both for the rail trail and scenic railroad?
DEC and OGS are identifying opportunities for parking and access in preliminary rail trail designs currently under development. Potential parking opportunities are available at numerous locations along the future rail trail.
What is the best source of information for people wanting to learn more?
For more information about the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor rail trail project, including background, historical considerations, and management objectives, please visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62816.html.
DEC is developing a webpage to provide updates on the progress of the rail trail construction, status of various segments, and guidelines for public use of the rail trail. The webpage will be available upon completion of the transfer of jurisdiction from DOT to DEC.