Just the Facts:
About the Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail (March 2020)
The Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail non-profit Board is making great progress in our efforts to build a multi-use recreational trail on the 27-mile former Buffalo & Pittsburgh rail line that runs from Orchard Park to Ashford. Thanks to funding from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, GOBike Buffalo has hired Alta Planning & Design to conduct an engineering assessment that will outline plans and costs to develop a multi-use trail from Buffalo to Olean. This includes the 27-mile ECRT Trail. The assessment by Alta will include community meetings to gather public input to produce a community-specific, clear visioning plan and blueprint for trail design.
Who owns the trail? Has it been abandoned?
Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad owns the land and the railroad right-of-way. The railroad has not abandoned its interest in operating a railroad on the property. It is private property, and is owned “fee simple” which means BPRR holds the title. The corridor has been railbanked for interim trail use to preserve this federally regulated transportation corridor.
What railbanking means?
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) approved the railroad’s Notice of Interim Trail Use as a multi-purpose trail. ECRT was named trail manager in 2018 through a federal railbanking agreement. This is a program that Congress enacted through the National Trails System Act of 1983. The intent is to keep the corridor “shovel ready” for future rail use, allowing interim trail use of the corridor.
Who has jurisdiction over the trail?
The federal government has jurisdiction over the corridor, which pre-empts local/state government. Even though it is private property, the use of the property is regulated by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) since Congress regulates interstate commerce. It’s still a transportation corridor, with train traffic being replaced by trail users. It can be replaced by rail traffic again in the future. It is a railroad right of way that is being used as a trail in the interim.
What is the best way to build it?
The decision to use this railroad corridor as a trail is final. It has been reviewed and approved by the STB. The best way to build it is to work in partnership with local towns and residents to gather public and municipal input, concerns and preferences. Working together we can create the best product for all.
Who is responsible if someone is injured on the trail? Are adjacent landowners responsible?
Trail surface conditions will allow access by first responders when necessary. Trail users are responsible for their own safety. The NYS General Obligations Law, Recreational Use Statute, specifically states no owner or lessee of property shall be responsible for or held liable for any injury to person or property for which access has been granted for recreational purposes. Adjacent landowners cannot be held liable in the event someone enters adjacent property without permission.
How many homes in Orchard Park will be affected by the trail (are on the trail)?
There are 67 parcels that touch the trail in Orchard Park. Of those, 23 have a dwelling deemed close to the trail (150’ of less). These 23 dwellings will be given special interest and attention during trail design.
GET INVOLVED: To learn more, visit www.ecattrail.org. Sign up to volunteer, donate, become a member.