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Railroad easements can be reclaimed

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Terrel L. Shields

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Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
Railroads have abandoned tons of track in the past 100 years. Most of the Right of ways were not deeded land, but were easements which were to revert to the original owners if abandoned. A federal law :twisted: passed with a provision allowing Railroad right of ways to become public walking trails...trails many :roll: landowners did not want on their property.

After years of legal battles :( the issue is being settled in favor of landowners, in that to keep these right of ways as walking trails, the government will have to compensate the landowners with cash....cash few of them have to spare, so the R-O-W's are, in general, going to be going back to the original landowners :D .
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
There are two seperate legal rights / property rights issues in the courts in various jurisdictions. One set deals with existing railroads selling easements to ATT, Worldcom, etc. for laying fiberoptic cables along railroad right of ways. Where those ROWs are simply easements, landowners are claiming they are being infringed upon. I understand they are winning these cases, too.

In the other set, it deals with the tracks to trails initiatives pushed by outdoor groups as public parkways...an offshoot of the legislative blurb added to a bill several years ago. The suits started about 1998. A recent one has been tried and appealed and the landowners right to compensation has been upheld. I don't have a specific link, I read this in a farm magazine. There are a lot of links to that if you go to an search engine and try railroad tracks to trails lawsuit, etc. and check a search. THis is typical http://www.fb.com/news/nr/nr98/nr1007.html
 

Frank Bertrand

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
Not up North. Railroads own the property the tracks are on.

Penn Central--New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad--went belly up over 2 decades ago and they still have a land department selling off old tracks.

No rush for them I suppose...
 

Restrain

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
We have an abandonded track that runs through several suburban cities and is a walking trail for many miles. Now, the Transit authority is interested in reclaiming this track for a rail line. The people who border this track are upset, to say the least. While it will be 5-10 years before anything is done, the battle is already on.

Roger
 

Dave Brigle

Sophomore Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2002
This has become a serious issue and the impact on property value can be significant. Most property owners dislike the so called walking trails and "trespass" that goes with it, but imagine a railroad track with trains that becomes an abandon track. The cheap land associatied with the external depreciation makes way for upscale homes ... and now comes another train system.
 

Verne Hebert

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Montana
Very Interesting.

Certainly in the last 10 to 20 years we have seen more "well written" easements--but with regard to easements written prior to this time, they were intended to exist in perpetuity; this is inferring the feds are suggesting that continued use of the intended easement use must continue.

I have a couple of appraisal assignments in the pile that have have railroad easements across vacant land that were quit claimed from the railroad to a private owner in the early 60's. They now show on plats as a "fee strip" and are taxed as fee simple ownership--these however were never constructed as functional railroad track areas--welcome to Montana.


Terrel-

I have a post on the General Discussion entitled, Appraising a private road.

I'd appreciate your input if you have time. Happy New Year.
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
If I find the time I will post on the Kansas links, these are ative and current lawsuits happening right now.

I happen to own one of the affected URBAN properties and have been following the matter loosely

try a seasrch of the Topeka Capitol Journal for rail trails....
many articles in the past several months, was also a really comprehensive one in the NY Times in the last 3-4 months.

interesting issues form BOTH sides of the story!

I think that the urban trails are a good thing, (even if it goes through the back yard)... they get a tremendous amount of use. However! The additional amenity of living 'on the trail' is offset by the number of thieves who wait and watch when you leave the house and kick your door in, do a 'snatch and grab', and are long gone before the cops show up if you DO happen to have an alarm :evil:
 
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