Legal Aspects of Trails

Environmental Insurance Fact Sheet Rail-Trail, Bicycle, Pedestrian Caucus, State House, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Thursday, December 7, 2006.
This handout contains the wording of the summer 2006 legislation that extends environmental insurance to communities that are developing rail trails. Answers to three frequently asked questions and contact information are included. Download PDF

Rail Trails and Liability, A primer on Trail-Related Liability Issues & Risk Management Techniques
Hugh Morris, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, September 2000.
This document reviews key laws in various states and outlines the fundamental issues of standard tort law and the special provisions of recreational-use statutes that limit liability.Download PDF

The process for buying railroad corridors in Massachusetts is covered in a state law. The law gives the state the right of first refusal when these corridors are up for sale.
http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/161c-7.htm

A section of Massachusetts law, the 40-54 regulations, are about impeding construction of buildings next to or on top of former railroad corridors. That can’t be done without the approval of the state.
http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/40-54a.htm

Information on Rail Trail Environmental Liability Legislation
Massachusetts State Senator Pam Resor, May 9, 2006.
This update reviews previous laws that have been enacted in this area and provides a status report on proposed further legislation concerning liability for previous environmental contamination, especially on MBTA-owned corridors. An “Environmental Insurance Model” is proposed to limit exposure of local towns and the extension to EOT-owned corridors like the BFRT is discussed.Download PDF

Getting on Track: Common Sense Ideas to Expedite Rail Trail Development in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight. Senator Cheryl A. Jacques, Chair, May 2001. This report reviews the many benefits of rail trails and points out how the state has a poor record of completing rail trails. The report lists a number of recommendations for improving the situation.
http://www.mass.gov/legis/senate/railtrail.htm