Public meetings set on Remsen-Lake Placid rail plan

The state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation announced Tuesday they will hold four public meetings in September about the management of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor, a 119-mile rail line in the Adirondacks.

Information and comments gathered from the public and stakeholder groups will help the commissioners of the two state agencies determine whether to amend the Remsen-Lake Placid Corridor Unit Management Plan. The plan, adopted by the departments in March 1996, assesses the natural and physical resources along the 100-foot-wide corridor, identifies opportunities for public use, and guides how the corridor is used and managed.

The public meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

Monday, Sept. 9, 6 to 9 p.m., Town of Webb Park Avenue Office Building, 183 Park Ave., Old Forge

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 1 to 4 p.m., DEC Region 5 headquarters, 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook

Monday, Sept. 16, 1 to 4 p.m., State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica

Tuesday, Sept. 17, 6 to 9 p.m., The Wild Center, 45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake.

Each session will include a presentation by the state agencies and informational stations at which the public can give state agency staff their comments and ideas verbally or in writing.

All of the meeting facilities are wheelchair accessible. Requests for directions or specific accommodations for any of the meetings may be directed to 518-897-1200 or 315-793-2327.

Written comments also may be submitted by Sept. 25 to, faxed to 518-457-3183 or mailed to Raymond F. Hessinger, Director, Freight and Passenger Rail Bureau, New York State Department of Transportation, 50 Wolf Road, POD 54, Albany, NY 12232.

The state acquired the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor in 1975 from the bankrupt Penn Central Railroad. The rail line was constructed in 1892 and was operated by New York Central Railroad and, later, Penn Central Railroad until freight service ended in 1972. New York Central ended passenger service there in the mid 1960s.

The Department of Transportation manages the line in keeping with a Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan developed in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Approximately 100 miles of the corridor is located within the Adirondack Park. An additional 19 miles is located outside of the Park in the Tug Hill region.

Since the 1996 plan, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, owned by the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society, has started using the state railroad to run tourist trains in summer and fall between Utica and Old Forge and between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. Its goal is to run trains along the entire corridor.

In the winter, the rail corridor is reserved for snowmobiles.

A growing number of people say the state should remove the tracks and resurface the corridor as a trail for bike and foot traffic and easier snowmobile use. A group called Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates formed in recent years to push this idea, and many of the municipalities the railroad passes through have endorsed it. Others passed resolutions urging the state to at least revise the corridor’s management plan. The state agreed to do that in June.