Knowledgebase-City's Ability to Condemn an Easement Across Railroad Tracks to Construct a Street


Information Product

Title:City's Ability to Condemn an Easement Across Railroad Tracks to Construct a Street
Summary:The authority granted to municipalities to condemn property to establish streets and highways also allows condemnation across railroad tracks so long as use of the land for railroad purposes is not destroyed.
Original Author:Shechter, Leslie
Co-Author:
Product Create Date:07/17/92
Last Reviewed on::05/17/2017
Subject:Eminent domain; Land use; Railroads; Streets--Construction
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion:

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: July 17, 1992

This is to follow up on our phone conversation yesterday regarding the City's ability to condemn an easement across railroad tracks to construct a street. The Tennessee Supreme Court has held that the general legislative authority granted to municipalities to condemn property to establish streets and highways also allows condemnation across railroad tracks so long as use of the land for railroad purposes is not destroyed. City of Memphis v. Southern Railroad Co., 167 Tenn. 181, 67 S.W.2d 552 (1934). Where construction of the street crossing at the railroad requires destruction of railroad property or makes use of the property for railroad purposes difficult, there must be more specific legislative authority. The railroad would likely be entitled to a hearing on the issue of safety and potential interference with rail operations. Town of Collierville v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 1 S.W.3d 68 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1998)

My understanding of your proposal is that there would be no interruption or destruction of the tracks for railroad purposes. If this is the case, you should have no problem treating these private railroad owners in the same fashion as any other private property owner.

Thanks for asking MTAS to help.

Sincerely,

Leslie Shechter
Legal Consultant

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