Santa Clara board supports reopening railroad plan

The town of Santa Clara has joined the list of municipalities to endorse reopening the unit management plan for the Remsen-Lake Placid railroad corridor.

The town board voted unanimously Thursday to support the state’s plan to review the UMP, according to town Clerk Laurie McGill. She said the board’s decision wasn’t any indication of whether it supports preserving and expanding rail service on the corridor or replacing the tracks with a multi-use recreational trail.

“They’re in support of the state looking at it,” McGill said Friday.

Last week, the state Department of Transportation and state Department of Environmental Conservation, which jointly manage the 119-mile corridor, announced the UMP would be reviewed “to assess its natural and physical resources in an effort to identify its best public and economic use.”

Over the past year, several municipalities along the corridor have approved resolutions asking the state to reopen the UMP, including the villages of Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, and the towns of Tupper Lake, Webb and Harrietstown. Others have gone further, asking the state to remove the rails, including the village of Lake Placid and the towns of North Elba, Piercefield and Colton as well as St. Lawrence County.

The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, which has been pushing for removal of the tracks and the creation of a multi-use trail on the corridor, had also asked for the UMP to be reopened. The current UMP was completed in 1996 and is required to be revisited every five years, but that hasn’t happened.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which runs the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, and the Adirondack North Country Association are among the groups that lobbied against reopening the UMP. They want to see the existing rail service on the tracks preserved and expanded. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad runs tourist trains seasonally between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake and between Utica and Big Moose.

Rail supporters are also pushing a “rails with trails” idea that involves trails weaving in and out of the corridor where possible to connect communities from Remsen to Lake Placid, but they do not have a specific plan for how those trails would work. They’ve told the Enterprise they wouldn’t develop a trail plan themselves.

DOT officials said last week they expect the UMP review could begin this summer and take up to a year to complete.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or