1. As an Ulster County resident I am wondering if we can do both rail and trail? Isn’t it too narrow for both? Won’t it be too expensive for both?
YES, We Can Have Both!
It will cost some more to do Rail and trail – but you get much more bang for the buck. The big cost is construction – for the trail. The cost of rehabbing the rail line is trivial by comparison. A working rail line combined with a trail system makes both better. You get rail users, trail users – and people who combine both. You get three for two – what’s not to like?
Plus, there are plenty of competing trails out there – having the railroad here would make this trail a unique draw.
A railroad could actually assist in the construction of an associated trail. This might actually lower the over all costs of construction even more.
As far as the narrowness of the corridor goes, yes there are a few places where the railroad cuts through narrow single-track areas, but over 80% of the route is wide enough for both rail with trail and, where it isn’t, the simple solution is to go around or up and over, as a trail can do, while a railroad must go in a relatively straight (and boring) line.
2. Is it true that the Taxpayers of Ulster County will be funding the majority of this project on NYC land?? Who will do the maintenance?
With The proposed ulster county budget, the tax payers will pay $ 1.6 million in ripping up the Ashokan rails then they have put in for $ 9.5 million in planning no build fund as of yet with neither State OR Federal grants
Whoever pays to build the trail, Ulster County taxpayers will still be on the hook for maintaining it, litter control, trespass issues, emergency response, etc. And, if it’s primarily used by locals, it’s not boosting economic activity with new money from outside. No employees, no purchases of supplies from ticket money, no budget for advertising, no partnerships with local businesses. It will be more of a money sink then an economic driver.
3. Why does Ulster County need a railroad?
It doesn’t – if you believe railroads are an outmoded form of transportation. The rest of the world disagrees.
China is building a vast rail network, both high speed and conventional. Europe continues to improve its rail network – the new Gotthard Base Tunnel in the Alps is taking thousands of trucks off the roads and cutting passenger rail travel times. (The tunnel – at 35 miles – is nearly as long as Ulster County’s rails!) Japan’s rail system is legendary – and both they and China are building Maglev systems. All of these places have a range of rail services, from high-speed lines down to more modest local rail lines – and they connect with other transportation modes.
The Borders Railway in the United Kingdom has lessons for Ulster County. It’s a new 35 mile long conventional single track line built to replace one torn out in 1969. It reconnects a depressed region to the national rail system. Opened in 2015, ridership has boomed, the local economy has picked up, the region is drawing increased tourism, and gaining residents. (http://www.bordersrailway.co.uk)
Not all of the United States disdains rail. California, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts – all of them are building new rail systems or thinking about it. New York State is falling behind. Ulster County doesn’t have to.
4. What’s so special about the Catskill Rail Corridor?
Three words: location, location, location. It’s just an hour and a half by Thruway from millions of potential visitors. It runs right into the heart of the Catskills, a region that attracts people from around the world – and they’re accustomed to rail travel. A class one railroad runs right through Kingston – restoring a connection to it would put the region on America’s freight rail network. If passenger service returns to the West Shore of the Hudson, the Catskill Rail Corridor would be in a great position to leverage that.
If Ulster County is looking to boost tourism, the rail corridor has this advantage as well: it’s unique. There are trails all through the area – but only one rail corridor. Does it really make sense to invest in one more entry in an already crowded field?
There’s also the future. An aging population is looking for recreation that doesn’t involve driving everywhere. A new generation is not so attached to cars – but they do like the transportation choices cities offer, including rail. As downstate becomes more congested, people are looking up the Hudson Valley for options. If Ulster County is interested in managing growth, having a viable rail corridor will be an increasingly important asset.
5. Wait a minute – you keep talking about the Catskill Rail Corridor. Isn’t this the Catskill Mountain Railroad we’re talking about?
That’s a big part of the problem. People look at the CMRR and think that’s all there is to the rail line. The CMRR is just the latest railroad to operate in the corridor – but it’s not the entire corridor.
The Catskill Rail Corridor is more than just the tracks or the equipment operating on it. It’s the right of way, the communities along it, the businesses that border it, the Route 28 corridor it parallels, the historic structures, the bridges, and the history. It includes the economic potential of the line, both direct and indirect. It includes the environmental impact. It includes the potential uses of the line, not just the current extremely limited tourist operations.
All of this is in danger of being heedlessly thrown away by politicians lacking the vision to see anything beyond what’s right in front of them. In effect, they’re preparing to break up an intact rail corridor into the equivalent of disconnected amusement park rides. Criminal is not too strong a word to apply to this.