US Supreme Court Ruling Could Impact Memphis Bike Path Plans

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(Memphis) A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court may have an impact for Shelby County government, landowners, and our bike paths.

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that old railroad lines can’t automatically be seized by the federal government and turned into bike trails.

The Greenline Trail stretches seven miles through Shelby County, and if it happens to run through your land, you just might be able to get paid for that.

In an 8 to 1 decision, the court ruled just because there once was a federal right of way at a rail line, it doesn’t apply anymore once the land is sold.

That means some who own land on sites of old rail lines turned into bike paths might be owed compensation.

“I’m not sure how that really affects us at this point but  I think since it came out yesterday everybody will be looking at it,” said Pragati Srivasta, the director of the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The organization is responsible for transportation for the entire region.

She says the ruling is so new it’s unclear what it could mean for local landowners or the city and county government. She says city and county attorneys will be looking at the ruling closely.

The Greater Memphis Greenline wants to put a new bike path at the site of an old railroad track on Chelsea Avenue, but this new Supreme Court ruling could put a dent in that plan.

Across the country, the ruling has been called a victory for landowners, but proponents of turning “rails into trails”  are calling the ruling disappointing.

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