Pipes, Wires, and Bicycles: Rails-to-Trails, Utility Licenses, and the Shifting Scope of Railroad Easements from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

117 Pages Posted: 31 May 2010  

Danaya C. Wright

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Jeffrey Hester

William J. Tucker & Associates

Date Written: May 31, 2010

Abstract

This article responds to a series of class action suits filed against railroads, telecommunication companies, and the federal government claiming that once railroads abandon their corridors, all property rights shift to adjacent landowners. This article reviews the state law on this matter and offers a theory of how courts should handle these cases. After discussing the history of nineteenth-century railroad land acquisition practices, it analyzes the scope of the easement limited for railroad purposes, then discusses the role of abandonment in affecting the rights of third party users of these corridors as well as successor trail owners. The article concludes with a theory of railroad easements that interprets the railroad's powers based on the public participation that helped create and establish these corridors and the tenuous claims of adjacent landowners.

Keywords: Railroads, Railbanking, Property, Rights-of-Way, Easements

Suggested Citation

Wright, Danaya C. and Hester, Jeffrey, Pipes, Wires, and Bicycles: Rails-to-Trails, Utility Licenses, and the Shifting Scope of Railroad Easements from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries (May 31, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1618609 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1618609

Danaya C. Wright (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0946 (Phone)
352-392-3005 (Fax)

Jeffrey Hester

William J. Tucker & Associates ( email )

Indianapolis, IN
United States

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