Snowmobile causeway washouts are fixed
Dangerously thin path filled in to make grooming safer
SARANAC LAKE — A causeway crossing Lake Colby that is frequently trafficked by snowmobiles has been in disrepair with washouts and erosion for over a decade. Earlier this month, the state Department of Transportation filled the path in, and it is safer for trail grooming machines to pass now.
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 Jim McCulley, president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club and a longtime rails-to-trails activist, said the railroad bed bisecting Lake Colby on the 18-mile trail from Lake Placid to Lake Clear has eroded thin over time and that he has been trying to get it fixed for many years.
DOT Public Information Officer Michael Flick said the erosion was likely caused by “beaver activity.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 The rail lines sit on a thin stretch of raised stone with a 10-foot drop on either side into the water. McCulley said the path is most dangerous for the groomers, which are 9 feet wide and balance on caterpillar treads on the tracks, which are 56 inches apart. Because of the washouts, in some areas the raised stone bed drops off immediately after the rail ties end.
“It’s super-dangerous. It’s nerve-wracking,” McCulley said in January. “This is just a disaster waiting to happen.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 He said when the wind gets blowing, groomer drivers struggle to keep the machines on the lines as each drags a 3,000-pound metal sheet to smooth the terrain.
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 There is a group of under five people who groom the trails and around two times a week they get out there, especially when the snow is flying. McCulley said one of them drops off the side of the causeway around once every three years.
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 He said he dropped over once, but the plow stopped him before the machine sunk into the ice with him inside.
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 The rails have not seen trains since fall 2016. The snowmobile club has a permit to groom the corridor from Nov. 1 to April 30.
The state’s new draft amendment of 1996 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan, which was released in December 2019, calls for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to take control of the corridor in March. The rail lines will be removed from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, and a trail will be constructed on that 34-mile stretch.
McCulley said he has been asking the DOT to fill in the washouts more frequently in the past months, and that last year the snowmobile association sent a letter to Ray Hessinger, head of the DOT rail division, saying the state is responsible for injuries on the corridor caused by the lack of maintenance.
“As you have been notified by our attorney, the causeway is a danger and the NYSDOT has the responsibility to mitigate these factors all along the corridor,”2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 the letter reads. “Yet they seem to be singling out the residents and visitors to Lake Placid and Saranac Lake by not repairing a dangerous situation.
“NYSDOT’s refusal is baffling and dangerous. I would like to remind the DOT that there is no sovereign immunity for negligent and willful misconduct.”
The DOT contracted with Tuscarora Construction from Pulaski, which from Jan. 17 to Feb. 3 used 820 tons of stone to repair the washouts and regrade the track shoulder areas, according to Flick.
McCulley believes the fix happened because of the letter the association’s lawyer sent.
“I think letting them know that they were going to be sued if anything happened, worked,” McCulley said.
Asked what prompted the work, Flick said it was the washouts themselves.
“Washouts, most likely from beaver activity, prompted the work along the causeway and a couple of other small areas adjacent to that site,” Flick wrote in an email.
2020欧洲杯体育投注官网 McCulley was happy with the washout fix. He said the groomers now have an extra 2 feet on either side.
“We can get across it no problem now,” McCulley said. “It used to take us 45 minutes. Now it takes five minutes.”