A short line railroad company in the state of New York is trying to block the path of a rails-to-trails effort.
The Genesee Valley Transportation Co. has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York against Lewis County. The county wants to leverage eminent domain to turn railroad tracks that are part of the Lowville & Beaver River and Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern lines into a trail. The county wants to take over 37 miles of track for recreational use.
Genesee Valley wants to see the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act rules enforced. The rules cover steps and approvals required to condemn a railroad that has been abandoned, and outlines other railroad operations like status, rates, and the renewal of inactive tracks to prevent abandonment. A surveying company hired by the county has already scanned the right-of-way, and Genesee Valley wants the court to prohibit trespassing on railroad property.
Back in February Genesee Valley was informed, as per the eminent domain law, that Lewis County would enter the property to perform surveys and other investigations. Genesee Valley said the inactive segments of track were abandoned and objected to the eminent domain move.
The county also ripped 300 ft of track, and Genesee Valley wants that section to be replaced.
Genesee Valley is open to allowing the county to use land that runs parallel to the track for a recreational trail. County officials believe that option would be difficult and add cost to the project.