ST. LOUIS/KANSAS CITY, MO - Stewart, Wald & McCulley, the nation’s leading and only fully dedicated Rails-to-Trails litigation law firm, has recovered $355,000 on behalf of 7 landowners from the federal government, in the United States Court of Federal Claims, as a result of the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway rail-trail conversion in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The landowners own land along a 3.1-mile stretch of abandoned railway, which is being turned into the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway rail-trail. In the late 1880’s, the Southern Railway Company was granted a railroad easement to establish rail service in Greensboro. The line was most recently operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway Company pursuant to the same railroad easement. In August 2019, the Norfolk Southern Railway Company submitted a petition to abandon the line.
On September 13, 2019, the City of Greensboro requested to use the defunct railroad corridor for a recreational trail. The Surface Transportation Board approved the project under the National Trails System Act (“Trails Act”) and issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use on October 11, 2019. The Trails Act permits the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors into nature and hiking trails, which simultaneously preserves the right of way for possible future railroad use, a federal process known as railbanking. The process prevents the land burdened by the abandoned railroad easement from reverting to the adjoining landowners, and gives the trail sponsor a new easement, thereby blocking the rights of the landowners to regain their property within the corridor.
Stewart, Wald & McCulley filed the lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims on October 22, 2019. In February 2020, the lawsuit was amended to add additional landowners. A settlement was eventually reached, and the landowners received their compensation payments from the federal government in April 2022.
Because of their success, Stewart, Wald & McCulley has filed a subsequent lawsuit bringing an additional Trails Act claim for another landowner who was not part of the 2019 litigation. Attorney Michael J. Smith states “Adjacent landowners to the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway who have not obtained representation are encouraged to contact Stewart, Wald & McCulley to pursue their claims. We have identified numerous parcels along the trail, including several along Whilden Place and Hillside Drive, whose owners could potentially be due compensation under the Trails Act.”