Chapter 5B. Economic Development Act Of 1985


Published: 2015

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WEST VIRGINIA CODE











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WVC 5B-

CHAPTER 5B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1985.

WVC -1A-

ARTICLE 1A. WEST VIRGINIA RAILS TO TRAILS PROGRAM.







WVC 5B-1A-1

§5B-1A-1. Purpose.

The Legislature hereby declares that the long-term value to

the public of retaining networks of abandoned railroad corridor

lines is substantial, not only for the preservation of corridors

for future rail transportation uses, but in terms of providing

interim recreational use, providing public open space and linking

together other community areas and recreational spaces, providing

for efficient and convenient placement of underground utilities and

telecommunication lines, providing environmental greenways and

wildlife habitat, providing public access to other forms of

recreation and improving economic development opportunities

associated with all of the above listed multiple uses.







WVC 5B-1A-2

§5B-1A-2. Rails to trails program.

There is continued within the state rail authority provided

for in article eighteen, chapter twenty-nine of this code the "West

Virginia Rails to Trails Program," the purpose of which is to

acquire or assist with the acquisition of, and to develop or assist

with the development of, abandoned railroad rights-of-way for

interim use as public nonmotorized recreational trails.







WVC 5 B- 1 A- 3

§5B-1A-3. Definitions.

(1) "Abandoned railroad rights-of-way" means land on which

discontinuance of rail service has been authorized by the

interstate commerce commission.

(2) "Division" means the division of tourism and parks.

(3) "Nonmotorized recreational trail use" means bicycle,

hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, horse drawn wagon,

jogging or other similar activities.

(4) "Rail bank" means the holding intact of an abandoned

railroad right-of-way for future railroad service.

(5) "Rail trail" means an abandoned railroad right-of-way

utilized in the interim as a public nonmotorized recreational

trail.







WVC 5B-1A-4

§5B-1A-4. Powers and duties of the authority.

The state rail authority is authorized to:

(1) Enter into agreements with any person on behalf of the

state to acquire an interest in any abandoned railroad

right-of-way, to develop, maintain or promote any rail trails

created pursuant to the provisions of this article and, with the

consent of the director of the division of natural resources, to

transfer the maintenance and operation of rail trails created and

developed to the division of natural resources.

(2) Assist any political subdivision or any person in

acquiring an interest in any abandoned railroad right-of-way and in

developing, maintaining or promoting rail trails.

(3) Evaluate existing and potential abandoned railroad

rights-of-way so as to identify such lands as may be suitable for

nonmotorized recreational trail use.

(4) Establish state rail trails, subject to the limitations on

acquisition of land for state recreational facilities as set forth

in section twenty, article one, chapter twenty of this code.







WVC 5B-1A-5

§5B-1A-5. Powers to hold and acquire real property.

(a) The state rail authority shall hold fee simple title or

any lesser interest in land, including easements and leaseholds, on

all abandoned railroad rights-of-way acquired by the state and

utilized for interim nonmotorized recreational trail use pursuant

to the provisions of this article. The state rail authority may,

at the option of a political subdivision of this state, hold fee

simple title or any lesser interest in land, including easements

and leaseholds, on all abandoned railroad rights-of-way acquired by

such political subdivision and utilized for interim nonmotorized

recreational trail use. Any provision of article one-a, chapter

twenty of this code to the contrary notwithstanding, the public

land corporation shall not be vested with title to any abandoned

railroad right-of-way which becomes vested in the state pursuant to

the provisions of this article.

(b) The state rail authority may acquire an interest in an

abandoned railroad right-of-way to be used as a rail trail, in

accordance with the provisions of section six, article eighteen,

chapter twenty-nine of this code.

(c) The state rail authority shall issue a rail bank

certificate for each abandoned railroad right-of-way held by the

state rail authority for interim nonmotorized recreational purposes

in accordance with the provisions of section six of this article.







WVC 5B-1A-6

§5B-1A-6. Abandoned rights-of-way owned by the state prior to

effective date of article.

(a) No abandoned railroad right-of-way acquired by the state

prior to the effective date of this article and used as a rail

trail may be used for any purpose that would unreasonably limit the

ability to restore rail service over the right-of-way if such

service were to be required in the future.

(b) Any and all abandoned railroad rights-of-way acquired by

the state prior to the effective date of this article are hereby

declared held for railroad transportation purposes as of the date

of acquisition, until, by executive order of the governor, the

right-of-way is declared no longer suitable for a public

transportation purpose as a railroad right-of-way. Such abandoned

railroad rights-of-way shall not revert by operation of law to any

other ownership while being held for future railroad use in

accordance with the provisions of this article.







WVC 5B-1A-7

§5B-1A-7. Railroad rights-of-way preservation.

(a) Upon receipt of a notice to abandon a railroad right-of-

way by the owner thereof, the commissioner may enter into an

agreement with the owners of the railroad right-of-way to preserve

intact the railroad right-of-way for a period of time not to exceed

three months to afford the state sufficient time to evaluate the

potential for use by the state for the purposes of this article,

and the funds available for acquisition.

(b) With regard to any land or an interest therein actually

acquired by the state pursuant to the provisions of this article:

(1) Every specifically identified railroad right-of-way,

including all bridges still in place, shall remain intact except

for necessary modifications required to adapt the right-of-way for

use as a nonmotorized recreational trail, except for where it is

necessary for a motorized vehicle to cross the trail;

(2) Any abandoned railroad right-of-way shall be used solely

for nonmotorized recreational purposes, subject to such

right-of-way being made available for future rail use, if

necessary; and

(3) Any abandoned railroad right-of-way acquired by the state

pursuant to the provisions of this article shall be deemed to be

held for railroad use and in continuation of the railroad easement

and shall not revert by operation of law to any other ownership

during the term of the agreement or during the term of a rail bank

certificate issued pursuant to section five of this article.







WVC 5B-1A-8

§5B-1A-8. Limitation on liability of owner from whom state

acquires land or interest therein.

During the interim period when an abandoned railroad

right-of-way is held by the state for possible future railroad use,

the owner of the railroad right-of-way from whom the state acquired

the land or an interest therein is relieved from civil liability

for any personal injury or property damage occurring on the

right-of-way during such interim period, which might otherwise

arise from ownership.







WVC 5B-1A-9

§5B-1A-9. Limitation on liability of persons making land available

for trail use without charge.

(a) General rule. -- Except as specifically recognized or

provided in subsection (d) of this section, an owner or lessee who

provides the public with land for use as a trail under this article

or who owns land adjoining any trail developed under this article

owes no duty of care to keep the land safe for entry or use by

others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning to persons

entering or going on the trail or adjoining land of a dangerous

condition, use, structure or activity thereon.

(b) Owner. -- Any person, public agency or corporation owning

an interest in land utilized for recreational trail purposes

pursuant to this article shall be treated as an "owner" for

purposes of this article.

(c) Specific limitations on liability. -- Except as

specifically recognized by or provided in subsection (d) of this

section, an owner or lessee who provides the public with land or

who owns adjoining land to the trail under this article is not, by

providing that trail or land or owning land adjoining the trail:

(1) Presumed to extend any assurance that the land is safe for

any purpose;

(2) Incur any duty of care toward a person who goes on that

land; or

(3) Become liable for any injury to persons or property caused

by an act or an act of omission of a person who goes on that land.

(d) Exception. --

(1) This section does not apply to the owner or lessee of the

land used as a trail if there is any charge made or usually made

for entering or using the trail or land, or any part thereof.

(2) This section does not apply to the owner of land adjoining

a trail if there is any charge made or usually made by the owner of

such adjoining land for using the trail or land, or any part

thereof, or if any commercial or other activity relating to the use

of the trail whereby profit is derived from the patronage of the

general public is conducted on such adjoining land, or on any part

thereof.

(3) The foregoing applies whether the person going on the land

provided or adjoining is an invitee, licensee, trespasser or

otherwise.

(e) This article does not relieve any person of liability

which would otherwise exist for deliberate, willful or malicious

injury to persons or property. The provisions of this article do

not create or increase the liability of any person.





Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session

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