Local Regulation of Railroads: Guidance for Municipal Attorneys on Navigating the Complexities of Federal Preemption

Strategies for Exercising Local Control to Address Nuisance, Liability and Economic Issues

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A


Conducted on Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide local government counsel with guidance on addressing the issues presented by freight and passenger railroads that run through cities. The panel will provide an overview of the federal regulatory scheme governing the railroad industry; discuss strategies for exercising local control to address safety, nuisance, liability and economic issues; and explore the challenges presented to local governments in protecting local interests in an area under predominately federal jurisdiction.

Description

A patchwork of federal agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration, the Surface Transportation Board, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Environmental Protection Agency, regulate railroad operations, property and safety. This largely federal regulatory scheme creates challenges for counsel when local governments attempt to exercise local control over railroads to protect residents and property.

Municipal attorneys face a challenging task in understanding the unusual regulatory framework they face in addressing legal issues surrounding railroads in both transactional and litigation settings. The issues of quiet zones, new construction of rail facilities, the legal status of discontinued or abandoned rail lines, interpreting railroad easements and rights of ways, regulatory control of spurs and sidetracks, and condemnation of railroad property are just some of the complex legal and regulatory challenges railroads present for local government counsel.

Listen as our experienced panel provides local government counsel with guidance on addressing the issues presented by freight and passenger railroads that run through cities. The panel will provide an overview of the federal regulatory scheme governing the railroad industry; discuss strategies for exercising local control to address safety, nuisance, liability and economic issues; and explore the challenges presented to local government counsel in protecting local interests in an area under predominately federal jurisdiction.

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Outline

  1. Overview of railroad regulatory scheme
  2. Key liability, regulatory and economic issues
  3. Local regulation of railroad operations
    1. Railroad infrastructure and facilities
    2. Crossings, quiet zones
    3. Condemnation of railroad property
    4. Franchises and rights of way
    5. Condemnation, abandonment and redevelopment opportunities
  4. Review of case law addressing preemption issues

Benefits

The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What types of local railroad regulations are not preempted by federal law?
  • What liability factors should cities consider when deciding whether to establish quiet zones?
  • What steps should cities take to mitigate risks associated with the increase in oil-by-rail activity?

Faculty

Michael N. Conneran
Michael N. Conneran

Partner
Hanson Bridgett

Mr. Conneran represents public agencies in matters involving real estate, transportation, and environmental law. He has...  |  Read More

Charles A. Spitulnik
Charles A. Spitulnik

Partner
Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell

Mr. Spitulnik represents both public and private sector clients on issues relating, in one way or another, to the rail...  |  Read More

John D. Heffner
John D. Heffner

Of Counsel
Strasburger & Price

Mr. Heffner’s practice is focused on private and public interests in rail transportation law. He is very...  |  Read More

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