Supreme Court ruling in land dispute could threaten bike trails

Good news, the Supreme Court got one right. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that government easements used for railroad beds over public and private land in the West expired once the railroads went out of business, and the land must revert to its owners. That means that bike paths pushers cannot just assume that they can build bike paths along existing abandoned “federally granted” railways. They will need to purchase this land from the rightful owners.
However, even good news causes ripples. This ruling will no doubt cause a series of dominoes to fall. There will be more use of eminent domain, which in turn will cause more lawsuits, which in turn will cause the cost/mile for building a bike path to increase. The hope would be that all of this turmoil will convince the American people that, in most cases, bike paths are not feasible. If the American people figure that out, the federal government will have lost a key tool, bike paths, in their Agenda 21 toolkit. To learn more, click on this link.
PS: From the author’s research, it appears most of the federally granted railroads exist west of the Mississippi, while few if any exist in the original 13 colonies. Determining the status of abandoned railroads in the states in between will require careful research.

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