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The stretch of rail corridor from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake has been unused for over 20 years. The 9-mile stretch from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake is used for two scenic railroad runs per day during the summer season. The Town of North Elba had been attempting to construct a parallel bike path from Lake Placid to Raybrook and then on to Saranac Lake but ran into funding problems.
In 2010, Camoin Associates was chosen by the North Elba Town Board to conduct a study of the rail corridor between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake. Though the Town could not acquire funding from prior grants to underwrite it, private donations allowed the study to take place in the 4Q, 2010.
AdkAction.org, Inc. organized public presentations of the results of the Camoin Study. The presentations were made on January 25th at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake and on January 26th at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. A PDF version of the slides used is attached here.
The major conclusion reached was that either extending the scenic railroad from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake or converting the corridor from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid to a recreational trail would be better for the communities along the route than maintaining the status quo. The high projected costs of each option were noted to be for professional construction crews working to the highest standards and did not take into consideration the possibility of volunteer materials or labor, each of which could substantially reduce costs.
AdkAction.org, Inc. works on issues for which there is a general consensus that a given path is the right path, e.g., our attempts to reduce the damages of winter road salt on the environment and potentially on human health. In the case of the rail corridor, as there are two opposing schools of thought, we have decided to leave the next step – figuring out the real costs of conversion or extension – to those advocacy groups. We believe the work that has been done establishes the benefits of both without challenge, and hope that one or the other approach will be pursued.