MALONE — A judge ruled Wednesday that the state’s plan to build a 34-mile rail trail was “arbitrary and capricious” and failed to follow numerous state laws.
“The 2016 UMP [unit management plan] is annulled and vacated, in its entirety, and in each and every part,” acting state Supreme Court Justice Judge Robert Main Jr. informed the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation and the state Adirondack Park Agency.
The Adirondack Rail Preservation Society, which operates tourist trains under the Adirondack Scenic Railroad name, sued the state in April 2016. The lawsuit stemmed from a plan by the DEC and DOT, and approved by the APA, that would have removed 34 miles of train tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and replaced them with a multi-use trail. The plan also called for another multi-million-dollar state investment to rehabilitate 45 miles of railroad tracks from Tupper Lake to Big Moose, allowing passenger trains to operate between Tupper Lake and Utica.
The railroad in question runs 141 miles between Utica and Lake Placid, and the state owns the 119-mile majority between Remsen and Lake Placid. ASR, under lease from the state, has run tourist trains between Utica and the Old Forge area since the early 1990s, and from 2000 through 2016 also ran them also between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.