Could turning rails-to-trails stop NYRI?

CHENANGO COUNTY – Using a federal statute to turn railroad tracks into nature trails would be an aesthetically uplifting transformation, but it wouldn’t be enough to re-route a power line, an official said.

Referred to as “rails-to-trails,” Senator James Seward and others see the program as a beneficial way to offset the expected loss of the New York Susquehanna & Western railroad. They also believe it could be a roadblock for New York Regional Interconnect Inc. – which has a land-use option with the railroad to run its power line on – hoping the Albany company would have to re-do part of its review application and find a way around the roughly 11 miles of potential track-turned-trail.

“It would be an asset that could enhance the quality of life,” Seward said. “But it could also block the use of that right-of-way for projects that would be a detriment to the community, such as the NYRI power line proposal or any others like it.”

However, when asked if a power line company would lose its land rights if a “rails-to-trails” program was implemented, Jennifer Kaleba, a spokeswoman for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, said they would not.

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