To the editor:
Of all the arguments used to perpetuate the failed tourist train operating between Lake Placid to Saranac Lake, what appears on the surface to be the most persuasive is the one put forth by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA).
That argument goes as follows: When gasoline becomes too expensive for people to drive cars to the Adirondacks, we will need to revive railroad service from Utica to Lake Placid as the most efficient way of getting here. Therefore, we must keep the tracks in place, even though this would preclude converting the rail bed into a recreational trail that connects Lake Placid, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, Lake Clear and Tupper Lake.
So what’s wrong with an argument that favors trains over cars? Absolutely nothing, since improved rail travel is an essential part of our nation’s transportation future. But we’re talking here about high-speed rail between major population centers, about fast (180 mph and up) trains connecting New York, Albany and Montreal, Boston and Washington, LA and San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Many other countries are way ahead of us on this, including Spain (Barcelona to Madrid in less time than it takes to fly!), China, Japan, France, Germany, to name a few. Upgrading train transportation should be a top national priority. But this does not include wasting scarce government funds to revive an obsolete railroad line that runs 120 miles through the Adirondack outback.
We need to eliminate the failed tourist train and its endless subsidies, to salvage the rails and use the proceeds to create a world-class recreational trail for cyclists, runners, hikers, and families seeking healthy outdoor fun in a safe, beautiful setting. Environmentally and economically, it’s a success story waiting to happen.
Isn’t it time for ANCA to get aboard?