Earlier this week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Department of Transportation (DOT) all approve of the controversial plan to remove 34 miles of railroad track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and build a multi-use trail in its place. Mere hours after the announcement of state support, a lawsuit that has been filed against the plan was publicized.
The rail-trail debate dates back to 2013 when New York’s DEC and DOT drafted a plan to convert 30 miles of railway between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake into a recreational trail, and upgrade 45 miles of track between Tupper Lake and Big Moose.
While both the Adirondack Park Agency and New York State have given their stamp of approval, the recently publicized lawsuit seeks to prevent the removal of any railroad tracks. The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society (ARPS), which operates the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, filed the lawsuit in April. As reported by the Adirondack Almanack, the ARPS’s lawsuit consists of three parts:
1. The ARPS believes the DEC’s approval should be invalidated because of a failure to consider “economic impact data.” The society argues that the DEC ignored the society’s contradictory data, even though it was presented after the DEC stopped taking public comments.
2. The lawsuit states that the plan breaks the Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Law. According to the law, historic resources should be protected by state agencies. To comply with the law, the state plans to repair old railroad buildings and install historical signs along the new trail, but the ARPS doesn’t see this as a legal solution.
3. The ARPS notes that the railroad track falls under the classification of a Travel Corridor (consisting of highways and/or railroads) in the State Land Master Plan. For the society, a recreational trail does not count as a Travel Corridor, so the trail would violate the Master Plan.
Ultimately, the ARPS wants the state to reconsider the current plan and develop a new management plan for the endangered track. The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society plans to conduct a rally to raise awareness about the controversy on June 3 & 4 at Utica’s state office building.
The state hasn’t issued a reply to the pending lawsuit, but we will keep you updated on this next chapter in the rail-trail debate.
Which side of the tracks do you fall on? Is the lawsuit a frustrating delay, or a legal necessity?
- Adirondack Almanack – Railroad Seeks To Block Adirondack Rail Trail
- RT & S – Gov. Cuomo approves plan to partially preserve Adirondack rail line
- Governor Cuomo’s Office – Governor Cuomo Announces Plan to Create 119-Mile Travel Corridor to Boost Tourism Between Remsen and Lake Placid
- WKTV – Rally set for next month to save Adirondack Scenic Railroad