Analyze Rails-to-Trails Takings Claims On Case By Case Basis

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 12:00 am
 
Land Use Law Report, Volume 41, Number 6
 

            The conversion of a railway to a trail under the federal Rails-to-Trails Act is not a per se taking and, instead, must be evaluated on the right-of-way’s particular facts.


Facts: In 1886, the federal government granted a right-of-way for a railroad corridor to a railroad company, pursuant to 43 U.S.C. §§ 934-939 (the Act). Plaintiff Ellamae Phillips Co. (Phillips) now owns the property crossed by that railroad corridor, near Aspen, Colorado. That property was conveyed by federal patent deed to a private party in 1923 and acquired by the Phillips family a few years later. The railroad corridor was in use until the 1980s. In 1998, the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority converted the corridor to a bike path pursuant to the Rails-to-Trails Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1241-1251. In 2004, Phillips sued the United States, alleging that the railroad corridor’s conversion to a recreational bike trail constituted a Fifth Amendment taking. Both parties move[..]

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