Protecting Trails in Our Courts

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, part of the East Coast Greenway in Connecticut and Massachusetts | Photo by TrailLink user nmfuko

188 estimated rail-trails made possible by railbanking since 1983 / 60+ legal cases to date

For the past 35 years, RTC has served as the foremost legal advocate for the preservation of rail corridors as public recreation and transportation assets. We’ve argued on behalf of rail-trails in more than 60 cases at the local, state and federal levels, and before Congress and administrative agencies. This work has helped shape the legal framework around rail-trails and ensured the protection of nearly 200 such pathways through railbanking.

Elevated Rail-Trail Project in New Jersey Worth Fighting For

After more than a decade of ongoing litigation, RTC’s lawyers continue to work toward the promise of transforming a century-old railroad corridor in the heart of Jersey City, N.J., into a breathtaking urban oasis. Known as the Harsimus Stem Embankment (or Sixth Street Embankment), the elevated railway rises 27 feet above the city’s streets, spans eight blocks and forms the boundary between two National Historic Districts. The envisioned park-like rail-trail atop it would provide unique and much-needed transportation and recreational opportunities in a densely populated and built-out area, as well as tie into other developing trails in the region, including the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.

RTC was instrumental in protecting this irreplaceable structure by successfully challenging an improper sale of the property to a private developer who intended to demolish it (flouting federal Surface Transportation Board regulations). In FY 2020, our organization took part in settlement negotiations involving Conrail (which owns the right of way) and Jersey City to transfer the property to the city for the purpose of creating a trail for public use.