Rails to Trails

Effectively Handling Rails to Trails Cases

More than 12,000 miles of abandoned railroad rights of way have been converted into recreational trails in recent years. This is a pattern that is continuing. Some trails’ conversions are supported by law. Some are not. Sometimes the distinctions are not obvious.

At the Washington, DC-based law firm of Ackerson Kauffman Fex, we have been handling rails to trails and other right of way cases since 1991. We know how to quickly determine whether a rail to trail conversion is not supported by law, as well as the action to take on behalf of the landowner. Our experience has led to our lawyers being asked to testify before the surface transportation board and committees of the United States Congress. We are regularly consulted by fellow attorneys, right-of-way professionals, appraisers, farm organizations, landowner associations and property rights groups across the nation.

If there are railroad rights of way on your land that have been converted to hiking/biking trails, or if rights of way are currently in the process of being converted, our attorneys can determine the best recourse for you. In some situations, the trail may be unlawful, and steps can be taken to challenge the trail sponsor’s plans. In other circumstances, your recourse may be to file a lawsuit for payment of just compensation. We know how to determine which situation will apply to you.

Review Our Record of Success

We are not aware of any other law firm that has handled as many rails to trails cases as ours over the past 20 years, nor of attorneys whose practice has such a deep focus in this area of the law. Our successes speak for themselves.

Among the many cases we have handled, we tried what are widely regarded as leading national takings cases involving rails to trails. In Preseault v. United States, we obtained a federal court judgment that limited the width of the taking to an eight-foot strip of land for a bike trail through Mr. Preseault’s property, while garnering nearly half a million dollars for damage to the remainder of his property due to severance that destroyed its development value. In Hash v. United States, we helped establish a law that gave thousands of property owners across the country the right to bring a takings action against the United States.

In case after case, we have won judgments against the United States, building precedent on top of precedent, in which the courts have held the United States liable in favor of our landowner-clients, or in which courts have found that a trail could not be lawfully established.

We also take pride in what the National Law Journal, American Lawyer and others have said about our law firm.

Contact Our Rails to Trails Attorneys

To schedule a consultation with our rails to trails attorneys, call us at 202-594-6825 or send us an e-mail.