Over the past few months, Iowa Pacific Holdings’ decision to store old tanker cars on sections of railroad in the Adirondack Park has been a hot topic of discussion. While the rail company has defended their actions, others, including Senator Chuck Schumer, have raised issues with the plan and suggested alternatives.
Status of the Tanker Car Storage Plan
Since September 2017 when Iowa Pacific Holdings announced their plan to store old tanker cars on railroad track they own in the Adirondacks (in exchange for revenue), the company has transported roughly 65+ cars to the region. More specifically, the tanker cars were brought to the Tahawus line located just north of North Creek, NY.
Iowa Pacific Holdings noted that these tanker cars were previously cleaned and wouldn’t pose a hazard to the environment. However, environmental groups and both local and state officials like Gov. Cuomo still had concerns about the potential impact of storing them.
In response to a cease and desist letter from the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to Iowa Pacific Holdings, one of the owners of the stored cars, Union Tank Car Company, announced they would relocate their tanker cars outside of New York State early this year.
Despite Union Tank Car Company’s decision, Iowa Pacific Holdings intends to continue storing cars unless the lease to the railroad track is purchased and they are reimbursed for their investments.
NY Senator Takes a Stance
This past January, opposition to the tanker car storage plan received one of its biggest supporters in U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. According to an article by the Times Union, the senator weighed in on the topic and said it is “just about the worst place one can imagine for a junk yard of old rail cars.”
He also called on the Federal Transportation Board to prohibit storage of these tanker cars on the Adirondack railroad.
Is a Rail-Trail the Solution?
Rather than see an estimated 2,000 old tanker cars eventually make their way to Iowa Pacific Holdings’ railroad track, Ron Conover, the chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, has suggested an alternative.
Since Iowa Pacific Holdings leases sections of railroad track on the Tahawus line from the local government, Warren County could work to purchase the track back and convert it into a multi-use rail-trail.
As reported by NCPR, Conover has established a committee to research the feasibility of buying and transforming sections of this railroad into a rail-trail. The idea behind it is that the rail-trail would be state-owned and help attract hikers, bicyclists, and even snowmobilers to the region.
However, the development of rail-trails in the Adirondacks hasn’t been simple. The debate over the controversial rail-trail in the Tri-Lakes Region around Lake Placid is ongoing as New York State appears intent on appealing the judge’s decision against it.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Is a rail-trail the best solution to the tanker car storage plan?