What is Rails to Trails, and how are you affected

What is Rails to Trails?

Rails to trails litigation is the litigation surrounding the governments conversion of an old railroad to a hike and bike trail.

Can The Government Take Your Land?

Yes, the 5th amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that the government can take your property and convert it to a hike and bike trail, but they must pay you compensation.

Will I receive any notice?

No.  The abandonment of the railroad and the trails plan are posted in obscure Federal Register notification websites and the government is NOT required to provide individual notice to landowners.  So this may happen without you even being aware.

Can I stop the trail from being built??

No.  the railroad can abandon its right of way and convert to a hike and bike trail under the Trails Act.  Although you cant stop it from happening, you can receive compensation for this conversion.


Take the first step to protect yourself. Tell us about your case to receive a free and confidential consultation.

Who actually owns the land?

This can be a complicated legal question, but generally the adjacent landowner to the railroad has an ownership interest in the land under the railroad.  In some cases, the right of way was granted by an easement to the railroad over 100 years ago, and when that railroad right of way is abandoned, the ownership interest an use of the railroad corridor reverts back to the adjacent landowner.

Am I entitled to compensation?

Yes, you could be.  The law allows a landowner to file a ‘takings’ claim against the U.S. government under the 5th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires the government to pay ‘just compensation’ if it takes private property for public use.  You must prove that you are the legal owner of the land, that the right of way granted to the railroad was an easement and the railroad has converted the right of way to a trail.

How Long Do I Have to Bring a Claim for Compensation?

You must act fast!    Every legal case in the country has a statute of limitations which means, if you don’t bring a claim by the deadline you are forever barred.  In most cases, 6 years from the date of the Interim Trail Use.

What is my case worth?

The value of a case is depending on many specific factors unique to each property.  Our firm and the government will hire experts to determine the value of the property takings claim and how much compensation you are entitled to.

Where are these claims filed?

In the Federal Claims Court in Washington D.C.  These cases are NOT litigated in the local jurisdiction where the property resides but instead in the Federal Claims Court in Washington D.C.

How Does the Legal Process Work?

You must file your case with the Federal Claims Court to preserve your rights.  Our attorneys will begin by proving the ownership of the trail property through title work.  Then we will hire experts to contest the value of the property taken by the trail plan.  We will then proceed to a trial if necessary.  Our claim for compensation from the government will include all expenses associated with processing your case as well as attorney’s fees and interest allowable under the takings statute.

How Much Will This Cost Me Up Front?

Nothing.  Our firms handle these cases on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if you receive a successful settlement.  if you win the case, our fees come out of the money awarded to you.  If we lose, neither you nor our firm receive any money, and you will not be required to pay us for the work done on your case.

What Sets Our Firms Apart?

We have some of the most experienced attorneys in the rails to trails litigation in the entire country.  We are aggressive trial lawyers who have handled over 100,000 cases and settled in excess of $3 billion in claims in the last decade alone. And we have the resources, expertise and experience required to take on the federal government to get the best possible outcome for your case.







Houston Office

3737 Buffalo Speedway, Suite 1850
Houston, Texas 77098
(Junell & Associates primary office) 

Houston Office

700 Louisiana Street Suite 2300
Houston, TX 77002
(Hicks Thomas Primary office)

Sacramento Office

400 Capitol Mall, Suite 2530
Sacramento, Ca 95814

Deborah Levy of Houston, Texas is responsible for the content of this advertisement. UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, OUR LAWYERS ARE NOT CERTIFIED BY THE TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION. The publications contained in this site do not constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be with knowledge of the clients specific facts. By putting these publications on our website, we do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship with the user. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.