Restoration of Adirondack Rail Line Approved

May 15, 2012

A federal board has approved a rail company's plan to resume freight traffic along a 30-mile stretch of unused tracks in the Adirondacks.

The federal Surface Transportation Board on Monday approved Chicago-based Iowa Pacific’s  request for common carrier status. That means the rail company, which also owns the Saratoga and North Creek Railway, will be able to restore tracks and provide freight service between North Creek and the site of decommissioned World War Two mines at Tahawus.  That site has  nearly 100-million tons of limestone minerals and iron tailing remnants containing titanium and rare earth elements needed in high tech manufacturing. Warren Country Board of Supervisors Chair Dan Stec anticipates a boost in the region’s economy.

Protect the Adirondacks is opposed to the tracks being refurbished and reopened. The group claims the rail line was illegally built by the federal government across 13 miles of the state forest preserve during World War II.  Conservation Advocacy Committee Co-chair John Caffry says the group wants the rails removed and the land returned to the Forest Preserve.

Iowa Pacific Holdings President Ed Ellis says Protect the Adirondacks is not the only environmental group vying over what to do with the track.

Iowa Pacific’s Ed Ellis could not estimate how long it would take to remove the nearly 100 million tons of material,  but noted if they fill a thousand rail cars a year, that would be only 500 thousand tons annually.