On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down it’s decision in the “rail trails” case, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States. The ruling generated a lot of buzz within the bicycle advocacy community, particularly among rail trail advocates.
While initially the ruling appeared to seal a grim fate for existing and future rail trails, after careful review by rail trail advocates it now appears to be not quite so bad at the national level, and does not affect Massachusetts rail trails at all.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has put together an excellent blog post and infographic that details the impact of the Supreme Court ruling:
Existing rail-trails or trail projects ARE NOT affected by this decision if ANY of the following conditions are met:
- The rail corridor is “railbanked.”
- The rail corridor was originally acquired by the railroad by a federally granted right-of-way (FGROW) through federal lands before 1875.
- The railroad originally acquired the corridor from a private land owner.
- The trail manager owns the land adjacent to the rail corridor.
- The trail manager owns full title (fee simple) to the corridor.
- The railroad corridor falls within the original 13 colonies.
In Massachusetts, at least, we can breath a sigh of relief.