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Rails-to-Trails Law Firm Representing Landowners Along Rock Island Trail Pursue Extension Case

Landowners whose property is taken for recreational trails rely on Stewart, Wald & McCulley to recover money for them from the government.

Stewart, Wald & McCulley

Educating landowners on their legal rights and the impact of these trails on their property values is a priority.”
— Steven Wald
UNION, MISSOURI, UNITED STATES, October 28, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- The Rails-to-Trails law firm, Stewart, Wald & McCulley, which already represents landowners in the Rock Island Rail-Trail case involving land west of Beaufort, Missouri is now pursuing a case for the future rail-trail east of Beaufort. The Rock Island Trail extension is planned to proceed from Beaufort east for another 9.71 miles to Union, Missouri.

The firm, having successfully negotiated a settlement for landowners in Pettis, Benton, Morgan, Miller, Cole, Osage & Maries Counties, Missouri in the rail-trail case filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims titled Behrens v. U.S., Case No. 15-421L, is now representing landowners along the railroad corridor in Franklin County between Beaufort and Union. The landowners adjacent to the future rail-trail are eligible to recover compensation from the federal government for a taking of land.

On October 24, 2022, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed a Trail Use Request with the Surface Transportation Board ("STB"), which is the federal agency that oversees railroads. This Trail Use Request specified that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources petitioned the STB to issue a Notice of Interim Trail Use for the 9.71-mile line of the former Rock Island Line Railroad. The filing further indicated that the line is suitable for railbanking, and that the Department is willing to assume responsibility for the right-of-way by establishing a rail-trail.

When railroads under federal jurisdiction express their intent to abandon their lines, a trails group may step in to make an offer to purchase the land and convert the railroad corridor to a rail-trail. The process of converting inactive railroad corridors to recreational trails and keeping the corridor intact for future rail use is called “railbanking”.

If the STB permits a trail conversion, which the firm expects to occur in the near term, then this would potentially result in the triggering of a claim for money damages in favor of Franklin County landowners against the United States government. Under the Constitution, landowners must be compensated when their land is taken for a public purpose, such as a rail-trail.

Stewart, Wald & McCulley recently met with clients in Union. As attorney Steven Wald notes, “educating landowners on their legal rights and the impact of these trails on their property values is a priority.” Any lawsuit filed on behalf of a landowner is solely against the federal government and does not affect the trail project. Stewart, Wald & McCulley urges landowners to contact them to discuss their case.

Steven M. Wald
Stewart, Wald & McCulley
+1 3147200220
wald@swm.legal
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