Bulletin: OR000013

Date:
August 27, 1990
To:
All Oregon and Washington Offices
RE:
Railroad Rights of Way

Dear Associates:

The United States Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the 1983 Amendments to the National Trails Act, the "rails-to-trails" statute. Preseault v. I.C.C.,110 S. Ct. 914 (1990).

The 1983 amendments provide that a railroad wishing to cease operations along a particular route may negotiate with a State, municipality, or private group prepared to assume financial and managerial responsibility for the right-of-way. If the parties reach agreement, the land may, subject to ICC-imposed terms and conditions, be transferred to the trail operator for interim trail use notwithstanding whatever reversionary interest may exist in the property under state law.

This statute was challenged by persons owning reversionary interests who claimed that it was a thinly disguised effort to take their rights away without compensation. The Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the statute.

In Oregon and Washington railroads usually do not have fee simple title to their rights of way. They have an easement or a limited fee.

This case means that it is possible for railroads to transfer their easement or limited fee interests to others for recreational trial uses. Such a transfer must be approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
17.00 Railroad Right Of Way
 
17.44 Reversions
Exceptions Manual:
OR Railroads
 
OR Reversion
Forms:
None