There is an interesting United States Supreme Court decision, Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust v. U.S., No. 12-1173 that was recently decided. One family objected to the local government’s request for the property to be deeded over for a bike path. There are several places on the Internet where you can read a synopsis of the case, but let me provide you with the bottom line. The government when it gave the use of the land to the railroads gave only an easement, a legal right to simply use the land. But like all easements if you terminate the use the land reverts back to the title holder. In this instance it was a rancher in Wyoming.
From this decision I don’t think you can assume too much about your bike path. There is no word yet from the Wyoming land holder about whether they will grant an easement to the entity in charge of the bike path; they may or they may not.
- Link to this 27 page opinion.
- Court sides with landowner over abandoned railroad right of way, Washington Post
- Supreme Court sides with landowner in dispute over property claimed for public trail, US News via the AP
- Supreme Court tells government to take a hike -- but not on private property, The Business Journals
- Court ruling in land dispute could threaten bike trails, USA Today
- Great Northern R. Co. v. United States, 315 U. S. 262 (62 S.Ct. 529, 86 L.Ed. 836)
For help with your bike path case call the Lombardi Law Firm.