Alex Gimarc: Alaska Railroad acts like Chinese Communist Party on rights-of-way matters

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1925

By ALEX GIMARC

I put together a 5-part series in Alaska Politics and Elections Online (APEOnline) summer 2021 exploring the ongoing war between the Alaska Railroad and property owners along its tracks.  It was a fascinating journey in predatory corporate behavior and bullying aimed at its neighbors.  My conclusion was that Alaska Railroad was unnecessarily ugly and really needed to tone the nastiness down.

A follow-up piece last summer explored Alaska Railroad playing footsie with the Long Trail supporters as the use of the Alaska Railroad right-of-way is only way one can construct a trail system from Fairbanks to Seward, something that is illegal under federal law today.

There was some movement between August and September in the Flying Crown Homeowners Association v AKRR case, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a jaw-droppingly awful opinion that rewrote 150 years of federal law, ignored previous U.S. Supreme Court opinions, granted the railroad exclusive use rights-of-way along their tracks, something that doesn’t exist for any other railroad in the US.  

Given the awfulness of Ninth Circuit opinions over the last half century, this opinion is no surprise. Happily, the process is still underway, with at least one appeal to the entire Ninth Circuit available and following that a trip to the Supreme Court is still possible.  

My question is: What has the Alaska Railroad done in response to their big wins in court? Has their behavior changed? If so, how?  

It took a while to get a straight answer from my sources, not because of a lack of activity from the Alaska Railroad, but rather due to teeth-numbing anger and frustration from hundreds of abused property owners living along the tracks from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

Before reviewing the action this summer, a review of railroad rights-of-way is in order.  

A normal right-of-way allows the right-of-way owner access to the property of the owner. Think of a utility right-of-way in your backyard. Per U.S. law, the standard 200’ wide railroad right-of-way allows the railroad to keep tracks and immediate beds clear of all obstructions. The total width is intended to keep accidents from being deadly to bystanders. The closer you get to the tracks, the more limited your ability as a property owner is to build structures or plant trees.  

AKRR published a 2014 set of technical specifications on who can do what in the rights-of-way. The exclusive right-of-way granted by a wrongly decided Ninth Circuit opinion essentially grants ownership of that 200’ wide strip of land to the railroad, which is a taking.  

The question arises: Did the Alaska congressional delegation at the time (Sen. Ted Stevens, Sen. Frank Murkowski and Rep. Don Young) legislatively commit a legislative taking, literally stealing property from the property owners along the Alaska Railroad tracks? The answer to this is clearly no, despite Alaska Railroad claiming exclusive use of the right-of-way for nearly a decade. The phrase “land thieves” comes to mind, should you want to get into the name-calling business.  

What happened last summer?  

The latest flash point was brush clearing along the tracks. Two summers ago, when the crews showed up from Nancy Lake to Talkeetna, they did their brush clearing working with the property owners to retain trees clearly a distance away from the tracks, but within the 200’ easement. 

Last summer, that notification, negotiation ended, and the crews simply mowed everything in the easement, removing all trees and natural fences grown over the years, infuriating the property owners. They returned to properties manicured two years ago for a second round. Property owners were neither consulted nor listened to when the crews showed up. Happily, nobody got shot.  

Did this matter to the Alaska Railroad? Hardly.  

The railroad logic appears to be take advantage of the opening the court gifted them by cleaning up their list of outstanding work to do, and if the opinion is subsequently reversed, you can expect their response to be some variation of:  “Oopsie. Our mistake. So sad. Too bad. Sucks to be you.”  

There are other festering issues with the Alaska Railroad.  One of the worst may be the right-of-way patent accepted in 2006 by the railroad that put a cloud on all other property titles (homestead patents, for instance) along the rail lines. That will be a topic for another piece.

The Alaska Railroad has been an intentional bad actor along the Railbelt for the last decade, acting the bully on a regular basis, bashing its neighbors and converting a lot of supporters into former supporters. Now that they think they have ownership of their rights-of-way, they are being even uglier to their neighbors. Any business, even a state-owned business that goes feral and chooses to intentionally pick fights with their neighbors and customers will not be long for the competitive world.  Neither should the Alaska Railroad. Should they keep this up, we will shortly be in a discussion on the question: “Is the Alaska Railroad is simply too nasty to exist?”  

Depending on the outcome of that discussion, it will be time to do something about them.  

In the meantime, what are our options? With a problem like this, normally, one would get the Legislature involved. The problem with that approach is that the Alaska Railroad typically ignores the Legislature — that is, until they need more money or some legislation. Today, the best handle on their behavior is the governor, who appoints their board of directors.  

With that in mind, it is long past time for the governor to conduct a thorough housecleaning of the AKRR Board and appoint members who are just as interested in their moral and legal responsibilities as they are in targeting their neighbors.  Gov. Mike Dunleavy can solve this.  It is long past time he do so.  

Final thoughts: I have been working in the political wars for over 30 years in this state and have seen a lot of anger on both sides of the political fence. But the level of outrage, anger and frustration from property owners of all political stripe along the Alaska Railroad right-of-way is orders of magnitude beyond anything I have encountered during that time. In a lot of ways, the Alaska Railroad is acting like the Chinese Communist Party, simply stepping on people because they can and giggling about it afterwards.

Gratuitous ugliness is hardly a positive lifestyle choice or profitable business model. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

82 COMMENTS

  1. Take your whiney butt back to where you came from. The Railroad right of way is NOT available to the public ofr ANY purpose and should NEVER be. People, on the whole, have the logical thoght capabilities of an amoeba and the idea of them being able to constantly be in proximity to something that cannot stop in any short time is idiocy. The right of way was there LONG before any private property owner. This whole article is about people that moved in next to a railroad line and now want the rules to change for them. This is like moving next to the airport and complaing about the noise the aircraft make.

    • You sure about that…? The Talkeetna to Chase trail comes to mind. Used daily, along with the 2 four wheeler bridges within the right of way. Keep talking smack, transplant.

    • If you liked this, you’re really gonna enjoy the next one when I describe what AKRR has done (and is doing) to titles / patents for land on either side of the tracks. Happy reading and Merry Christmas to one and all. Cheers –

    • same complaint people use against airports, place out in nowhere and people will flock next to it. complain about it, Dallas-fort worth since the 70’s. out in the literal middle of nowhere now clustered in tighter than donnie orange skin tanning lotion

    • is that what happened though? Wasn’t there at least one Public Land Order for the Homestead Act that excluded the homestead from statehood choice? so the title went from federal to private title without mineral rights scathed off. If one gets land from state offerings it comes without mineral rights. So these properties are a bit on the more valuable side and ideally will be treated with adequate respect. I have a native allotment about the third US Survey done in the early 1900’s signed by my Uncle one of the first surveyors after the purchase of AK. Not a newbie.

  2. And your assertion that no other railroad has exclusive rights to the right of way is also false. Railroad tracks, and usually the land extending up to 50 feet on either side, are private property of railroad corporations. Railroad police have interstate jurisdiction and can investigate and enforce all state law crimes against the railroad whether or not the officers are on railroad property. The 1875 General Railroad Right of Way Act permitted railroads to obtain a 200-foot federal right of way by running tracks across public lands.

    • They have to the point where the soil gets wet from tidal effect at tidelands. in some cases only 15 feet why? statehood 1959 given forever to the people of alaska as a transportation corridor for them to rely upon forever to go upon. is it safe? it”s a bad engineering and they can do better. If the state of AK regulated railroad bed designs they would regulate and say: “we change our mind we don’t permit that location which is now ruined by your operations. Go straight change your elevation. Go slower on Turnagain mud you are causing liquifaction on salmon habitat.”. if the state of Alaska regulated this industry on the people’s tidelands.”

    • The process due will be seen in the legal description’s deeds. If the deed is not there it didn’t happen. Conveyed land stays conveyed. Not even the feds can convey someone else’s property.
      If one doesn’t own something they cannot lawfully convey it.

  3. Yes! Thank you, Alex, for pointing out in detail the arrogant and exceedingly nasty attitude, and contempt for the public and for private property owners, routinely demonstrated by the Alaska Railroad. I have had my own personal encounters with their heavy-handed and brutal security details, in situations in which I was NOT infringing on their operations or security, repeatedly having been threatened with arrest for merely being, on foot, NEAR their rights of way.

    I have nothing but disdain for how the Alaska Railroad treats the public, and they deserve all the contempt that they show Alaskan residents thrown back at them severalfold.

  4. The problem with Gimarc’s argument is he expects that the Alaska Railroad (ARRC) right-of-way to be shared with a host of undefined citizens. It there is a mishap involving the right-of-way is Gimarc and his ilk willing to indemnify the ARRC from all legal responsibility. No they are not willing to do that anymore than Amtrak is willing to look the other way with regard to right-of-way violators on their east coast corridor.

  5. Alex, you refer to the railroad corridor as both a “right-of-way” and an “easement”. I would think the 200 ft corridor would be a right-of-way. Perhaps you could explain the difference in the terms.

  6. All I can say is thank god for our great American organizations like PLF – Pacific Legal Foundation. One of our nations top advocates for the protection of private property rights in America. When our local federal judge in the Flying Crown case made a complete mockery of settled right of way law in America, not only did they take note. They took action on behalf of this Oceanview neighborhood and the entire Alaskan railbelt. Hopefully the governor and the state of Alaska will clean up this mess soon but PLF is happy to see it to the SCOTUS if necessary. They are very much at home there and have an uncanny ability to win almost every case they try!

  7. Plus they don’t respect “quiet zones” and still permit the squatter’s homeless camp off the tracks at Elderberry Park to stay put. They could be good neighbors, they just choose otherwise.

  8. AGREED. It is a corporation with “favored” status. It is unregulated. It needs to be brought to the table and its directors directed for the will and safety of the rights of living men with US Constitutional rights over nonexostent but imagined “rights” of mythological persons – private corporations.

  9. Get over it, Alex. Good guys finish last. If the country has learned any thing from Trump it’s this: to gain or keep anything of value you’ve got to kick ass and fight. Only losers whimper and whine!

  10. The tyrannical behavior of the Alaska Railroad is the behavior of railroads before their ownerships were broken up by anti trust legislation which changed the robber barons behavior very reluctantly. They went as fast and heavy as they could because they could. They hit anything in their way. They were rotten to all adjacent neighbors. FINALLY congress understood nobody was gonna get elected for anything until they brought “the railroad to heel”. Congress passed the federal licensing act which said they only owned a permeable public right-of-way license to use the rail ROAD not fee simple. ALL railroads permitted to be built including the ARR were from then forward under the federal permit right of way not fee simple. The creation ARRC received what was the federal permitted interest a permeable public right of way. That is all they have. They know it. The feds own the lake wetlands ARRC created by sinking the public lands in the wetlands where they go five times faster and eight times heavier than what they designed, built and permitted in 1923 within what is now the jurisdiction of the municipality of Anchorage. Anchorage could regulate it but fail its residents to do so. ALSO THE state of Alaska has authority to regulate this industry but fails to do it only trucks. Get ahold of your legislator and ask him how many free train rides he’s been bribed with.

  11. I for decades subscribed to all Alaska Supreme court cases. I used to go down to the law libraries, BLM reading room, Federal Bldg and pull cases. For fun. I found the case where the BLM Admin Judges chided the ARRC lawyers by saying: May we remind you you only have a permeable, public right if way not a fee simple parcel at that location. SO. They reasonably know this. Funny they publish one thing in onr.place and another and squirt tears to Congress vis-a-vis their disputable pitiable condition. They lift nearly word for word from letters of the credible neighbor’s complaints and notice to cure to them make their own piteous petition communications to Congress begging for remedy (otherwise known as money) and get it through the kind interventions from inception to date. :*)

  12. Boxcar Joe Biden has traveled over a million miles on railroads. Railroads have lots of rights. Just look at a title report on property anywhere near a railroad. All kinds of rights, easements, rights of way, even rights to minerals if found. Most were written by the barons of the mid 1800’s.

  13. ARR continued the federal culture embedded in its operation from the beginning. This includes a lot of featherbedding. Has anyone every stopped to watch ARR crews work on the tracks? No much different than “it must be a city job”.

      • And spraying Roundup willy-nilly along the tracks last year and this year, creating an ungodly and hideous death swath for hundreds of miles. Because “there was just no other option”, as a rude and arrogant Alaska Railroad spokesperson told me. Never mind that the Alaska Railroad managed to operate for over 100 years without the use of Roundup prior to last year.

        • Jefferson. I’m surprised you rag against Roundup. Local Alaskan conservationists (those that you would typically label with all the synonyms of Satan) have been advocating for terminating its use for decades. You share the same ideology. How can that be?

  14. Anyone else go out to read the actual 9th Circuit decision? Looks like a good decision and what I liked about it was the court presented facts and evidence (that any of us could check) to back up their reasoning…unlike the author of this personal opinion who simply makes statements that are unsupported by any facts in evidence. Statements like: “…rewrote 150 years of federal law, ignored previous U.S. Supreme Court opinions, granted the railroad exclusive use rights-of-way along their tracks, something that doesn’t exist for any other railroad in the US.” Really? How about some examples of the laws that were rewritten or the SCOTUS decisions that were ignored. Common sense is foreign to the author too…what would non-exclusivity look like? Would having private property owners doing whatever they wanted within 100 feet of an active rail line feel safe to anyone? And read the facts of the case – the railroad didn’t sue the homeowners association, the homeowners sued the railroad and lost. A valuable lesson in letting sleeping dogs lie. The railroad cleared the trees and brush from the ROW…boo hoo…and now they’ve got better visibility. Seems like a smart move.

    • It you sue the railroad corporation you lose the assumptions favorable to you. Their corporate sinister legal strategy is to be aggressive to activate as many lawsuits to extinguish as many rights as possible to tyrranically and inappropriately eke out the financial resources of their private property owners neighbors. All as private property owners Alaskans deserve civil good will and actual representation. I believe that ARRC should be compelled into federal court of appeals as court of first jurisdiction for their willful acts. The remedy is $200,000 which is the cost of the public interest lawsuit and the three railroad Alaskas be recognized judicially and additional senators ordered and sworn sworn in. At least two US Senator interested in best interests of non-railroad Alaska should be sworn in. Is Alaska not trifurcated already by ARTA – North Railroad Alaska, Railroad Alaska, and South Railroad Alaska? Since there are no Senators representing these three states extinguishing Alaska, we need to assign two Senators to North Railroad Alaska (Railroad Alaska already has two Senators) and South Railroad Alaska must be appointed for equal footing and representation.

        • Applying the US Constitution does make one sound unhinged as one advocates for it and property rights in this area of problematic jurisprudence. Alaska is far flung from US Constitutional principles here.

    • No PJ that’s a patently false statement. Truth is that Flying Crown, Alaska’s oldest airpark, didn’t file suit against the Alaska RR. The RR attacked the Oceanview association in district court after they were unable to answer the clear chain of title report demonstrated by Flying Crown that they were not the fee simple like owners of the ROW that they thought they were.

      • My mistake…the homeowners association sent the railroad a letter demanding that the railroad give up exclusive use rights and the railroad took it to court. The court clarified, with evidence, that the railroad was accurate in its claims and the homeowners association was wrong. The court decision is very clear but people who only agree with the courts when it goes their way still whine about the decision and use inflammatory language like “attacked” to prejudice the opinions of other emotion-based people. It’s the primary difference between actual conservatives and liberals (and conservatives in name only) – the rational mind versus the emotional mind.

        • I’m assuming the corporation has written deed from the property owners where the private property owners deeded their land out of love to George Bush so he could lovingly bestow the private property rights to the darling ARRC? It’s not there? Well that’s odd. THAT’S THE PROCESS THAT IS DUE. SUFFICIENT TRAIL OF DEEDS. See what’s wrong with thot argument is the US never owned those rights of way to deliver with love to the darlings ARRC. The USA had transferred and no onger had one iota of the tide lands or the titles in patents after recording them to private people who have the whole bushels of property rights. Anything else is stuff made up out of character with the US Constitution.

      • so is the railroad paying property taxes of the properties they maliciously and secretly subsumed with willing cooperation of courts in AK? what was the date of the secret new surveys and why won ‘t the ARRC record those surveys publicly. don’t they as policy obey directives of their board of directors to at least comply with the ancient but contemporary statutes of Frauds. also aren’t there a few rules about messing with federal surveys removing us survey caps? What’s with that sub professional behavior if not letting recorded owners of record know you were coming on to their properties so they would not be hoodwinked. is it that an ARRC property torte? Alaska have you even heard of property tortes?
        No. there was one. disturbing behavior. Do you think this is a good business practice by this locally unregulated industry in Anchorage?

  15. You’re barking at the moon. That railroad right-of-way is the foundation of the Railbelt. It was the first thing here. The towns were built around it. They win, you lose. They own that right-of-way, and they have transportation law telling everybody what happens (or not) there.

  16. Collective property ownership among public entities and their derivatives is the bane of Alaska’s existence. Without a revival of private property rights and the promotion of private property ownership by divesting public lands from public control, Alaskans will continue to suffer an erosion of their quality of life and individual rights. The primary concern during the statehood movement was, “Can Alaska support a state government?” Unfortunately, Alaska’s fate as an eternally dependent entity was sealed beginning with the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission for Alaska followed by significant federal legislation specific to Alaska. Without some serious intervention through an act of Congress, the fate of Alaska and Alaskans is unlikely to change. Should no change come to pass for Alaska, distinguishing the current brand of federal socialism from its kissing cousin, fascism, will be difficult at best. For now, public lands remain the biggest racket in town.

    • I agree with you, Lucas. It is utterly shameful that only around 1% — ONE PERCENT! — of Alaska’s lands are in private hands. And the most egregious offender, I would say, is not the state, but the so-called “Native” associations, particularly in the Anchorage area the Eklutna Corporation. Yeah, that is JUST what this country needed, more corporations! That is yet another damnable legacy of the Alaska-destroying Ted Stevens, whose memory I will always curse.

  17. The term railbelt should be banned. it is legally meaningless. or, name it Railroad Alaska and assign four more Senators since the railbelt is the only legal state entity represented with infrastructure. The only Alaska now entitled to actual infrastructure and the sh*t ton of rights to infrastructure and mega representation to excess legal rights. Completely unequal footing in Alaska Dear Commander in Chief. No equal footing in this place ostensibly in America. very sad state.

  18. Alaska has a lot of growing pains for not really growing. the refusal of the railroad to allow anyone else to have or be of value is part of it I believe.

  19. The Alaska Railroad ROW is cleared for safety, apparently AG does not understand the many Moose that are killed every year by trains. This ROW has existed long before adjoining property owners decided to use public property for their benefit

      • It is the right of the railroad to use the ROW for the purposes of the railroad and if they want to clear if back to the limit, they have that right. It is in Federal law.

    • The federal homestead was not illegal. The federal government is no longer offering the homestead act. If the state did not intend to support the property rights the time is long since past to debate, comment and reject private land use. it is now usurpations to do it. The railroad never registered negative oppositional comment regarding the US s federal operation designed to help strengthen in the timeframe required. Did they.

    • The permitted row in 1923 was affected by Statehood delivery of mean high tide line to the people of the state of Alaska forever. The judiciary should take notice of that. ANILCA was passed and affects properties adjacent to rr. senator Stevens knew intent of ARTA and arranged willfully for homeowners to have earlier federal surveys than the ARTA US Survey 9009 was complete so that is meaningful and US Survey 9009 is a dependent survey meaningful in negotiations for easement agreements typically elsewhere. A state is a state is a state according to the doctrine of equal footing that the United States, heretofore has liked. ETC.

  20. How many years has John Binkley been running the Alaska Railroad? Isn’t there a term limit for railroad board members?

    • Binkley got appointed to the Board by Bill Sheffield back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. So, 30 or 35 years now. Runs the tourists on our railroad from Anchorage up to Fairbanks to see his family attractions. Complete with color brochures bought by the state of Alaska. Hearing that he plans on expanding his railroad network to Seward so the big cruise ships can unload more passengers and head em up north to Fairbanks. Gives real meaning to Binkley when he says, “I’ve been working on the railroad.”

      • Good one, Ted. But your facts may be a slight bit off. I think it was Governor Tony Knowles who put Binkley as Chairman of the Alaska RR in the 1990’s, not Sheffield in the 1980’s. Either way, Binkley has been running the ARR for about 30 years.
        .
        Another little tidbit to think about:
        Binkley was in line to become Frank Murkowski’s replacement as US Senator in 2002 after Murkowski won the Governor’s race that year. But several Anchorage Republicans caught wind that Binkley was going to be selected and they reminded Murkowski that Binkley was an active campaigner for Democrats Tony Knowles and Bill Sheffield. In other words, an unreliable selection as a Republican replacement in the US Senate. Murkowski picked his daughter Lisa instead. Binkley also tried to get the Republican Party to name him as Ted Stevens replacement for US Senate, but failed in that attempt. And in 2006, Binkley tried to even a sour friendship with Frank Murkowski by running against him for the governor’s seat. All failed attempts. But no matter, because Binkley owns the Alaska Railroad now, as well as a big part of the cruise ship industry in Alaska. Who said getting even with old Republican friends isn’t a bad business to be in?

        • Well, I guess now we know why John Binkley ran against me in 2006 for governor and caused Sarah Palin to beat us both.
          You can blame Binkley for Sarah Palin. And I guess you can blame me for Lisa. I still think I’m a better Republican than John Binkley.

          • Frankie, you forgot. We just paid our lifetime dues to the Alaska Democrat Party. Quit blaming Binkley for all your problems.

          • I agree with Nancy. Frankie wasn’t so hot during the governor debates of 2006, calling Binkley out for fibbing on his academic credentials. So what if Binkley didn’t finish high school and never got elected to anything outside of drug town Bethel, Alaska. At least Binkley has cash. Lots of it. And Frankie, you are so stingy with yours.

  21. Question for all the AKRR apologists and cheerleaders:

    How and when did Ted Stevens and Don Young sponsor legislation that allowed AKRR to steal property from landowners with AKRR ROWs on their property without just compensation? In precisely which piece of legislation did this take place? Having found none….

    Given that their behavior changed 2013 – 2014, claiming exclusive ROW, I would submit that the cowardly skunks at the AKRR waited until Ted was long dead and Don was well into his dotage to deign to change the rules under which they operated hoping nobody noticed or remembered, mostly so they couldn’t be publicly slapped down. The term cowardly skunks comes to mind in parallel with land thieves.

    You guys want to play? Strap ’em on. Obvious warning is to be careful what you wish for. Cheers –

    • Sheffield’s old Chief of Staff from his governor days, John Shively, is on the Board too. The Sheffield choo-choo is a tight little crowd of multi-millionaires who keep their tracks covered. And that’s no BS.

  22. I’m not sure about how big of a deal this is, but it seems to me … whomever or what entity owns the Alaska Rail Road should be responsible and have the right-of-way for maintenance, and retain safety features of this part of the federal transportation system under the applicable state and federal laws. In some countries railroad rights of way are strictly regulated by federal law, and railroad companies have to comply with required rules and regulations.

    Privatizing the whole thing is not any sort of solution to ensuring safety measures are enforced along the rail line because there is too much of the ‘old boy network’ in local and statewide politics that could inveigle in its proper administration by ‘higher powers’ i.e. at the State or federal level. The situation described in the article just seems like a ‘personal feud’ between those local homeowners and whomever is in charge in the Alaska Railroad management.

    For comparison, the responsibility of the train crash in Ohio earlier this fall fell on the Norfolk Southern railroad company not following Federal maintenance regulations, as “… [President Biden ordered federal agencies to continue holding Norfolk Southern accountable for its February derailment in eastern Ohio and appointed a FEMA official to oversee East Palestine’s recovery] …”. 21 Sept 2023. ‘https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/.

    • To transfer land title and rights there is appraisal, negotiations documented to federal standards, offer sale and recordationi in writing. That is the process due for inhabitants following the honored British Statute of Frauds – in writing for transfer any of the bundle of rights. There is no other process anyone else can make up. And corporate ARR can’t imaginatively make up a new one or some law licenses should be questioned and lost.

  23. For those pushing back because they think property owners along the track are simply whiners, don’t like railroad noise, or just want to use “the Railroad’s” land, please get your facts right. Either you are ignorant of the whole story, or lying if you do understand it.
    The fundamental issue here is one of stolen property rights, which is a “taking.” Railroad interests have craftily morphed what was a simple easement (allowing the Railroad unhindered use of the ROW for only “railroad, telegraph, and telephone”) to virtual fee simple ownership. All done behind closed doors with no due process. Evidence of the chicanery includes the dubious way ROW patents were superimposed over vested homestead patents in 2005 and 2006, and indexed in a way essentially undiscoverable, even to title companies. Hence all the clouds on title the Railroad is trying to clear by suing Flying Crown to achieve Quiet Title in their favor. The matter impacts all property owners along the ROW, not just Flying Crown.
    There is documented evidence that our Congressional delegation never supported a taking of property rights, which is prevented by the Fifth Amendment. Through deceit and subterfuge, what was valued as a simple easement when the Railroad was sold to the State has become a cash cow for ARRC. Emboldened by (so far) misplaced court rulings, the Railroad uses its newfound “Exclusive Use” claim to browbeat and extort landowners, all under the threat of being “fenced off” of their own land.
    Those in disagreement with the tenets of this argument are invited to produce firm evidence rather than factually inaccurate distended rhetoric.

    • Railroad ROW are universally NOT easments anywhere in the US and have NEVER been,Railroad legislation over a hundred years ago and since allowed for the railroad to have absolute control over the right of way and to encroach on it in any way is trespass.

      • Do any of these folks have any oaths to defend and secure the unalienable constitutional rights of their beloved countrymen on file? Show me. THis signatures are on file. What are these oath takers defending these rights from? From the communist Chinese? OR The communist Russions? How about defending these rights from IMPINGEMENTS’ IS there impinging going on? If there was a taking when did it happen? DATES? There’s a federal template. CFR 49. IS how you do takings to federal standards and process that is do. NO evidence of lawful process equally equals what. IMPINGEMENT. Is impinging nice? Ladylike? SWEET? normal in AK? Is AK a united state that sticks up for equally footing and unpausable US Constitutional rights? Have we turned assunder from the heaved ho Constitution already? I don’t know. So is infringing free in AK?

    • the exclusive use became en vogue through the will nilly international embroidered by the Bush Patriot Act hoping regain what was lost in the anti trust legislation that broke the robber brains. The interpretation part is that the now private unregulated by the state of Alaska ARRC is a contractor with DOD contracts and voila a new unconstitutional process due to take private property and co-opt its control to that of a DOD installation. But that is not the constitutional process that is due. I get it; a lot of Alaskan good old boys do not wish to be governed by the US Constitution which still stands.

  24. An easement is an easement regardless of the parties. The title is retained by the owner. The owner can negotiate on the terms of an easement. The terms are universally zero or nothing. It is settled statute in the lower 48 when the railroad closes shop the road goes back to the titled owner. Every patent is different. What may be factual as of dates at one track location at another track mileage something completely factually different items exist and different dates.

  25. Oops all or nothing not the only options just the ones the railroad may be accustomed to negotiating in Alaska. They are just another corporation. Not the favored fair-haired child at Christmas any more.

  26. the railroad has unique ecology, understandings events at different mileages. what may be necessary at one mileage spot may be different at another. Ecology changes also.

  27. a nice thing before in Territorial days the railroad could not reach out to other government entities to persuade the ER m as against providing regulatory services to the private person supporting there need for developmental services. it was good public policy to allow development for private needs within the territory. After ARTA the ARRC reached out to preclude departments from helping a party thus retarding, chilling values even reality valuations within Anchorage. They are completely out of hand as far as being a neighbor goes. They should be audited and made to move tracks and make sure they understand they can’t go 40 miles an hour. others needs are considered also. Reasonableness should be a goal.

  28. The regulations for a federal lice no sed railroad, the only one in the US, required the railroad to stay out of the department regulations. it would not have been permissible for the railroad to reach out to the Department of Transportation and say to the state regulatory agency:. “Don’t do your job and give that applicant a driveway permit”. ARRC does that now. does the regulating for state DOT usurping its authority. Donald Trump would do something for the American tax payer. No one else in this corrupt state will except Kelli Tschibaka.

  29. Federal licensed railroad. This site has attached a corrector and it is not possible to retract with my limited phone. Apologies.

  30. hey sparky!! better brush up on federal eminent domain. give credit to your Supreme Court buddy Roberts for that decision, don’t expect them to switch decisions unless it concerns abortion. settled law is a thing of the past, decisions bought and paid for with the Federalist Society and the giant silverback. poor humble Thomas and that bogus lump of dung

    citizens lost their rights with the rightward stacking. Kelo vs City of New London. kiss your individual freedoms goodbye

  31. The design of the railroad tracks did not take into the consideration of “Tidelands”. At statehood all Alaska’s coastline was given forever to the people of the state of Alaska to go upon to depend upon forever as a transportation corridor, forever. This is a public good. Once designated “Tidelands” by Bureau of Land Management always Tidelands. The language according to the AG opinion doesn’t say the tidelands belong forever to state of Alaska agencies. The word agency and the word people are spelled differently and mean different things. It is a transportation corridor for the people to go upon forever. The meander where the soil gets wet is the surveyed, natural mean high tide line can and does change. Earthquakes can shake measurably down. Metes and bounds assumptions have rebuttable presumptions. There is not much to argue or interpret. The clear language speaks for itself. It may not be saying what the railroad or state is saying.

  32. I believe the state should pass legislation under weights and measurements to see if they can bring the road into cognition of needs of Alaskan communities for speed and weight and to offer a forum for Alaskans to point out particular antiquated design flaws where ARRC whistles too briskly over constantly submerged tracks that no longer drain and where the soil gets wet to mark the tidelands is just impossibly efficient and must be moved with infrastructure funds right now allowing safer transport and better husbanding of resources. The state of Alaska has passed the International Building Code defining driveways widths required for ingress of safety and fire fighting vehicles with held from private and foreign international interests by the incomplete, insular desires of the Alaska railroad Corporation within the current municipal classification of Anchorage. Again the ability to review spelling, grammar is not possible at my level of discussion. apologies.

  33. All: Some fine points: (1) a right-of way is a type of easement. SCOTUS said that in 2021 in the Cowpasture River case, slip opinion page 7; “A right-of-way is a type of easement. In 1968, as now, principles of property law defined a right-of-way easement as granting a no-nowner a limited privilege to “use the lands of another.”(2) pre-1875 federal railroad act “easements” were actually grants of land and are “fee” estates. All that changed beginning with the 1875 General railroad ROW Act. See: Brandt Revocable Trust v U.S. SCOTUS case 2014. Modern easements including the 1914 Alaska Railroad Act easement use easement language: “railroad, telegraph and telephone” purposes. In Brandt the court said this language in the 1875 Act creates a burden on land of another and obligates the other not to interfere: a simple easement. ‘https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/572/93/. Common sense (and quite a number of cases) suggests that where Congress uses the same language in two enactments, the words mean the same thing. The Ninth Circuit disagreed recently as to Alaska. And that is a mistake. Frankly, which seems to be a consistent pattern with that circuit, there is some “legislating from the bench” here.

    A good read for all, which demonstrates the inherent problems with land grant railroads, is “Railroaded” by Dr. Richard White, 450 pages of history of land grant railroads, which isnt what the Ak RR is but what they aspire to for sure. Also, “Octopus” by Frank Norris. I haven’t read, but will: the story of the Southern Pacific RR in California. I have heard that the legislative failure to “reign in” the railroad precipitated the constitutional change in Calf. to allow the initiative process. Can’t verify this, but sounds right initially. 4) indemnity for third parties in the easement: The MOA in the past has held harmless the rr from its own negligence on trails within the easement. One claim caused $500k 30 years ago. Self insured,that is your money being spent if you are in Anchorage.

    More info at the website of the Alaska Railroad Transfer Committee: http://www.railroadedalaska.com: Don Young’s letter there says no way Congress would have done what the railroad and now the 9th Circuit says happened in the 1982 transfer.’https://www.railroadedalaska.com/_files/ugd/ffac37_f03ff0177e23436a888ac1266ca1a4f2.pdf

    Which ever side you are on in this matter, it is good to see the public discussing this important issue.

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