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This money is being spent so a small group of obviously well-connected rail fans can run a tourist railroad...

Critic says DOT wasting money on scenic train

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A Lake Placid snowmobile activist blasted state officials this week for spending millions on the tourism train connecting lake Placid and Saranac Lake, while road and bridge repairs go begging.

At a budget hearing in Albany, Jim McCulley challenged state Budget Director Robert Megna about the Department of Transportation's priorities. Martha Foley has more.

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Lake Placid snowmobile activist Jim McCulley blasted state officials this week for spending money on the tourism train project in the Tri-Lakes area of the Adirondacks.

McCulley spoke before a panel on transportation issues chaired by state Budget Office Director Robert Megna. 

McCulley says the state lacks funds to pay for basic road repair and maintenance – and shouldn’t be investing in the railroad,  “While DOT has told Lake Placid and Saranac Lake it can’t fix state Route 86 because 30,000 cars a day make it a low use highway, but a train that carries only 30,000 riders total gets funding.” 

McCulley’s comments followed the testimony of state Transportation commissioner Stanley Gee. 

Gee acknowledged that New York’s roads and bridges are under-funded and decaying. 

McCulley claims the state has spent over $40 million on maintaining the railroad corridor, which is managed by DOT.  “This money is being spent so a small group of obviously well-connected rail fans can run a tourist railroad that carries less than 40,000 riders a year,” he said.

McCulley thinks the Lake Placid-Remsen rail corridor through the central Adirondacks should be converted into a multi-use recreational path.

Train advocates say the project will eventually expand tourism traffic from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

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