Train to Lake Placid: New York State Travel Corridor

NYS DOT Freight & Passenger Rail Bureau,
My family has has property in the Adirondacks since 1971, and right out of High School I spent two years up there working on 1980 Winter Olympics facilities including the Olympic Bobsled Run, the Lake Placid Hilton, and the Adirondack Physicians and Surgeons Building. I am still active in the area and would love to see Lake Placid and Montreal bid for a future Olympics as it definitely would impact the area and further help with the advancement of rail transportation in the Adirondacks. The recent prominence and dispute between rail enthusiasts and conversion-to-trail advocates along the Remsen – Lake Placid corridor is very interesting. The option of a trail-rail combination seems logical and mutually beneficial. The corridor is generally 100 feet wide and with the right design, planning and especially budget enhanced by federal funds allocated for an Olympic event, it could work.

However, there is a much more important factor no one has addressed, that would not just involve a +/-$20 million repair of the existing tracks, but a complete overhaul, including any design and budget that would enable a trail-rail use of the corridor. What has not been discussed is that the Remsen – Lake Placid corridor as well as rail lines once operated by NY Central & Hudson River Railroad, and the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad and Rome Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad may become the 3rd & 4th tier local service components of the NY State high-speed railway (HSR) system. As you may know from 2008 US DOT maps, the proposed 1st & 2nd tier main lines run south-north from NYC to Montreal thru Albany and east west from Albany to Buffalo (and on to Toronto) thru Utica, Syracuse and other cities along the way. These historic corridors may comprise the local HSR system northern NY service lines from the Utica terminal on the main line thru Tupper Lake and re-connect to the main line at Plattsburgh, and a second line from the Syracuse terminal on the main line thru Malone and on to Montreal. The line will also run south from Utica thru Binghamton and down into Pennsylvania and connect to other main lines. Behind the scenes, a global consortium has been developing a plan and program to design, build, finance, operate, maintain, and transfer (DBFOMT) the HSR system in NY using a public-private partnership (PPP) procurement and finance model. The proposed consortium includes high-speed rail and finance experts from the US, Europe, and China. The enabling PPP legislation has been proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, called the “Innovative Infrastructure Act”. Soon after the legislation has been enacted, the consortium will seek project approval and formally announce the proposed project.

Therefore, the 1996 Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan should not be revised to forever exclude rail transportation as it would be detrimental to the high-speed rail system in New York, the revitalization of villages such as Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and many others, the economic growth of the Adirondacks, and the State as a whole. The Adirondack Scenic Railway was just the start of re-establishiment of passenger rail service in northern NY, but it has a very bright future, and the Unit Management Plan should keep that opportunity intact!




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Jim Burdge

Property Manager
Paul Smiths Rentals

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