On August 3, the Port of Seattle, represented by Timothy Leyh, Randall Thomsen, and Kristin Ballinger, prevailed at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit concerning the Rails to Trails Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d).
The Port and other local defendants were sued by 141 property owners whose property is adjacent to a railroad corridor along the eastern shore of Lake Washington. The corridor is now being used as a trail pursuant to the Rails to Trails Act. The plaintiffs sued to prevent the local government and utility entities who funded that acquisition from using the corridor for utilities and passenger rail. They claimed that the Rails to Trails Act extinguished the railroad easements in the corridor.
In a unanimous opinion, the Ninth Circuit disagreed, holding that the statute by its terms preserved those easements, meaning that the corridor could be used for utilities and passenger rail, in addition to its use as a trail. See Kaseburg v. Port of Seattle, No. 16-35768 (Aug. 3, 2018). The case is a significant victory, and likely will result in more conversions of unused railway corridors into trails.