Colton: Replace railroad with trail

The Colton town board wants the railroad tracks on the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor to be removed so a multi-use recreational trail can be built.

The board recently passed a resolution calling for the tracks to be removed, town Supervisor Denny Bulger told the Enterprise Friday. The resolution passed unanimously.

Colton joins the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, the village of Lake Placid, the towns of North Elba and Piercefield, and the New York State Snowmobile Association in asking the state Department of Transportation to tear up the rails and ties.

Earlier this month, Bulger said he had only heard about the rail versus trail debate through media reports. Since then, his board was approached by Chris Keniston, a Tupper Lake man who belongs to the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, a group that wants to replace the railroad with a recreational path.

“He stopped by one day on his way down this way, and we had quite a chat,” Bulger said. “I didn’t realize at the time that a piece of that railroad was in the town of Colton, but since then I’ve learned quite a bit about it.”

A little more than 2 miles of the rail corridor pass through Colton.

Now that he’s had time to think about the issue, Bulger said he completely supports a trail over a scenic train. He said it fits in with a local Complete Streets initiative that his town supports.

“We want to open up the town more so to get people out of their homes so they can go biking, hiking,” Bulger said. “We’re doing whatever we can to support that kind of an effort, and this fits right into it.”

Other municipalities along the corridor have asked for the DOT to reopen its unit management plan so all stakeholders can have a say in the corridor’s future. The original UMP was completed in 1996 and hasn’t been reviewed since, even though by law it’s supposed to be revisited every five years. The towns of Tupper Lake, Harrietstown and Webb, the villages of Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, and the Beaver River Property Owners Association have asked for the plan to be reviewed.

The only two towns in the rail corridor that haven’t yet taken positions on the rail-trail issue are Long Lake and Santa Clara.

DOT officials and Gov. Andrew Cuomo say a discussion about the corridor’s future should be facilitated by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

Meanwhile, advocates on both sides of the debate are ramping up their efforts. ARTA has enlisted local Olympic biathletes Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, Annelies Cook and Haley Johnson Stewart to testify in an advertising campaign that began in the Enterprise last Saturday. The Adirondack Rail Preservation Society, which runs the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, got the Tupper Lake village and town boards to endorse a grant request for $15.2 million to rehabilitate the railroad tracks between Big Moose and Saranac Lake.

Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or