In response to a petition from an anti-trails group called the National Association of Reversionary Property Owners (NARPO), the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) is proposing to limit the time in which railbanking agreements can be negotiated to three years, absent ‘extraordinary circumstances.’
For complex projects like the 300-mile long Great Redwood Trail, this arbitrary timeline imposition would create an unreasonably high hurdle. More broadly, it threatens to frustrate Congress’ intent in passing the railbanking provisions of the National Trails System Act by making it needlessly difficult to complete railbanking agreements.
Comments are due November 1.
|Docket #: EP_749_1||Subject: Oppose changes to railbanking rule|
Please take a moment today to send a message to the STB asking the agency to reconsider this short-sighted move.
Dear STB Commissioners,
Railbanking has helped to protect thousands of miles of railroad right of way while providing crucial recreational and transportation alternatives to Americans across the country. The Surface Transportation Board’s proposal to limit the total available time in which a railbanking agreement can be negotiated to only three years (Docket #EP_749_1) is a short-sighted and counterproductive proposal that will only limit the number of railbanking projects that can be approved over time. The public gains nothing by forcing rail lines to be abandoned when railbanking could be achieved with less restrictive deadlines.
The Surface Transportation Board should instead set a deadline that prevents negotiations from continuing endlessly. A ten-year limit on trail agreement negotiations would allow all the complex layers of agreement and financing that are often part of rail-to-trail agreements to be completed, while still providing parties a real deadline to force final action.
As an advocate for northern California’s Great Redwood Trail, I am excited by the opportunities railbanking the old Northwestern Pacific rail line offers our region for non-motorized transportation, recreation, and tourism. While I too would like to see the transition happen quickly, I also understand that such projects require careful planning to succeed, and I do not want an arbitrary timeline hampering our ability to successfully implement railbanking and trail development.
The Federal Register listing detailing the STB’s decision proposing the new limits is HERE.