|SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD DECISION DOCUMENT|
|MID-MICHIGAN RAILROAD, INC.-ABANDONMENT EXEMPTION-IN KENT, IONIA, AND MONTCALM COUNTIES, MICH.|
|Director Of Proceedings|
|DECISION GRANTED FRED MEIJER HEARTLAND TRAIL'S REQUEST TO EXTEND THE INTERIM TRAIL USE OR ABANDONMENT NEGOTIATING PERIOD TO SEPTEMBER 27, 2010.|
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|Full Text of Decision|
40715 SERVICE DATE – APRIL 26, 2010
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Docket No. AB 364 (Sub-No. 14X)
RAILROAD, INC.—ABANDONMENT EXEMPTION—IN
Decided: April 23, 2010
By decision and notice of interim trail use or abandonment (NITU) served on June 9, 2008, Mid-Michigan Railroad, Inc. (MMRR) was granted an exemption under 49 U.S.C. § 10502 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. § 10903 to abandon a 24.70-mile rail line between milepost 103.20 at Lowell, Mich., and milepost 78.50, at Greenville, Mich., at the end of the line in Kent, Ionia, and Montcalm Counties, Mich. Also, a 180-day period was authorized for West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition (WMTGC) to negotiate an interim trail use/rail banking agreement with MMRR for a portion of the right-of-way between milepost 103.20 near Lowell and milepost 81.32 near Greenville, a distance of 21.88 miles. That negotiating period expired on December 8, 2008.
23, 2008, a NITU was served reopening the proceeding and establishing a 180-day
period for a new entity, the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail (FFMHT), to negotiate
an interim trail use/rail banking agreement with MMRR for the 21.88-mile portion
of the right-of-way between milepost 103.20 near
April 28, 2009, a NITU was served reopening the proceeding and establishing a 180‑day period for FFMHT to negotiate an interim
trail use/rail banking agreement with MMRR for the remaining 2.82 miles of the right-of-way
between milepost 81.32 at
By letter filed on March 29, 2010, FFMHT requests a further extension of the negotiating period for the entire 24.70-mile right-of-way until September 27, 2010. FFMHT states that it is working to finalize funding for acquisition of the right-of-way, but does expect to have all of the funding available to close the transaction until June 30, 2010. In a response filed on March 30, 2010, MMRR states that it has not consummated the abandonment, that it continues to negotiate with FFMHT for an interim trail use agreement, and that it agrees to the extension request. Additionally, MMRR requests an extension of the consummation notice filing deadline until 60 days after the expiration of the extended NITU negotiating period (until November 26, 2010).
Even if a
negotiation period expires, when a carrier consents to continuing negotiations
and has not consummated abandonment of the line, the Board continues to have
jurisdiction to grant an extension.
Under the circumstances, an extension of the negotiating period is
warranted. See Birt v. STB,
90 F.3d 580, 588-90 (D.C. Cir. 1996);
Accordingly, the NITU negotiating period will be extended until September 27, 2010. Pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 1152.29(e)(2), the time to consummate the abandonment and to file a notice of consummation will be extended until November 26, 2010.
This action will not significantly affect either the quality of the human environment or the conservation of energy resources.
It is ordered:
1. The request to extend the interim trail use negotiating period is granted.
2. The request to extend the time to consummate the abandonment and file a notice of consummation is granted.
3. The negotiating period under the NITU is extended to September 27, 2010.
4. The authority to abandon must be exercised, and the notice of consummation must be filed on or before November 26, 2010.
5. This decision is effective on its service date.
By the Board, Rachel D. Campbell, Director, Office of Proceedings.
 Under 49 C.F.R. § 1152.29(e)(2), a railroad may, for good cause shown, file a request for an extension of time to file a notice of consummation in abandonment proceedings. Because the same provision permits the railroad to file a notice of consummation within 60 days after expiration of a legal or regulatory barrier, such as a trail use condition, it is not clear that MMRR needs a separate extension of the deadline for filing a notice of consummation in this situation. MMRR’s request for that extension will nonetheless be granted.
 See Rail Aban.—Use of Rights-of-Way As Trails—Supp. Trails Act Proc., 4 I.C.C.2d 152, 157-58 (1987).