Brandt Case and the GSRT


The recently decided Supreme Court case involving a rails-to-trails project (the Brandt case) does NOT appear to be directly relevant to the Great Shasta Rail Trail Project (GSRT).

The key distinction is that the property in the Brandt case involved a railroad right of way that was FULLY Abandoned.  This means that the Federal government said at some point (through the Surface Transportation Board) that the corridor was no longer a transportation corridor.  Many years after the abandonment was finished, a rail trail was planned across the former right-of-way on Brandt’s land.  By contrast, the property that will become the GSRT has NOT been fully abandoned.  Our efforts to railbank the line effectively halted the abandonment proceeding.  The Surface Transportation Board still has jurisdiction over the GSRT, and has authorized the railroad company to sell the property to us for “INTERIM trail use.”  We’re interim in that the STB can –at a later date- authorize a railroad to operate across the GSRT property; the STB still has jurisdiction.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy has been watching this case, and here’s what they said:

“The ruling does not affect trails that have been “railbanked” (the federal process of preserving former railway corridors for potential future railway service by converting them to multi-use trails in the interim).”  The upshot is that we’re pursuing the GSRT through railbanking, which is an element of private property rights that was not addressed by this Brandt case.

The whole RTC blog can be read here:

http://community.railstotrails.org/blogs/trailblog/archive/2014/03/11/the-supreme-court-decision-how-does-it-affect-rail-trails.aspx

The case can be read here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-1173_nlio.pdf

 

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