LA Times: Supreme Court deals setback to rails-to-trails movement
“The Supreme Court dealt a setback Monday to the popular redevelopment trend of transforming abandoned railroad lines into public bike paths, ruling that buyers of such lands are not required to continue granting a federal right of way…
“In an 8-1 decision, the justices ruled in favor of Marvin Brandt, a Wyoming man who controls 83 acres of land that was formerly used by the Wyoming and Colorado Railroad, located near the Medicine Bow National Forest. When the U.S. Forest Service told Brandt that the government retained the railroad’s right of way across his land and planned to use it for a bike trail, he filed suit.
“Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 gave the rail lines a temporary easement across the land, but once the rail line was abandoned and the property was sold, the government no longer had a right of way.
“So when the Wyoming and Colorado Railroad abandoned the line in 2004, ‘Brandt’s land became unburdened of the easement, conferring on him the same full rights’ to keep others off his private property, Roberts said.”