The operator of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway can move forward with plans to reopen the Tahawus rail line between North Creek and Newcomb and offer freight service, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Monday.
The federal Surface Transportation Board on Monday approved a request for “common carrier” status on the line, which allows Iowa Pacific Holdings, the rail line operator, to reopen the line.
The federal government built the 29.7-mile stretch of rail in 1940.
The company intends to haul tailings, the waste left from past mining operations, from mining operations at Tahawus during World War II, and offer freight service to other customers.
Company officials have said they also have had discussions with The Barton Group, which operates a garnet mine in North River, about potential freight service.
Local government officials have said bringing freight service to the area will increase the chances of recruiting new employers.
“Today’s announcement is great news for the Adirondack region,” Schumer said in a press release.
Schumer said that hauling the tailings by rail will be an alternative to hauling tailings by truck, which means there will be less air pollution.
It was unclear on Monday when work to reopen the rail line would begin.
Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific, had not returned a voice mail message seeking comment as of 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Staff at a public relations firm that represents the rail line also had not returned a message seeking comment.
The Surface Transportation Board originally rejected Iowa Pacific Holdings’ request last year, when the environmental group Protect the Adirondacks opposed it.
The environmental group argued that the tracks should be removed and the land returned to the state Forest Preserve.
Iowa Pacific appealed the decision, and the Surface Transportation Board granted approval on Monday.
John Caffry, a lawyer for Protect the Adirondacks, said he was not able to comment about Monday’s decision because he had not yet seen the decision to review the details.
Local government officials were appreciative that Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Reps. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, all supported the appeal, said Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Stec.
“So it has had bipartisan support all the way from the local to the federal level,” he said.