• Amtrak service temporarily suspended west of Albany

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by NYCRRson
 
(QUOTE)
49 U.S.C.
United States Code, 1994 Edition
Title 49 - TRANSPORTATION
SUBTITLE V - RAIL PROGRAMS
PART C - PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION
CHAPTER 243 - AMTRAK
Sec. 24311 - Acquiring interests in property by eminent domain
From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov

§24311. Acquiring interests in property by eminent domain

(a) General Authority.—(1) To the extent financial resources are available, Amtrak may acquire by eminent domain under subsection (b) of this section interests in property—

(A) necessary for intercity rail passenger transportation, except property of a rail carrier, a State, a political subdivision of a State, or a governmental authority; or

(section omitted because it does not apply)

(2) Amtrak may exercise the power of eminent domain only if it cannot—

(A) acquire the interest in the property by contract; or

(B) agree with the owner on the purchase price for the interest

(END OF QUOTE)

So first off. Amtrak can operate their trains on the property of a rail carrier (CSX) past the building in question, they CANNOT use eminent domain to take ownership of the tracks.

Secondly Amtrak is responsible for protecting their operations from nearby buildings.

Amtrak has, to the best of my knowledge made no attempt to purchase the failing building under contract, or agreed to any price with the owner...

And if the City of Albany takes over the building due to unpaid taxes then it belongs to the city of Albany which Amtrak is prohibited from exercising eminent domain over.

So, Amtrak needs to start to attempt to purchase the property and agree on a price.

Then since Amtrak is always broke they will not be able to agree to a price.

Then Amtrak can "take over the warehouse via eminent domain" and pay the owner maybe $10 million dollars.

And then Amtrak has as property filled with an environmental disaster that would cost Amtrak probably $50 million to fix....

Amtrak could just bring in some precast concrete arches and cover the tracks to protect them from falling debris for a lot less that it will cost to tear down that warehouse....

This is why that building is a White Elephant and nobody wants to touch it....

1) City of Albany takes it over for delinquent taxes and has to spend $50 million to end up with a parking lot worth maybe $10 million....

2) CSX (who apparently still owns the tracks) has an agreement that Amtrak can use the tracks, but does not need them for any freight traffic. And CSX probably has some legal agreement that they are not responsible for any damages from falling debris from adjacent buildings....

3) Amtrak could under exceptional circumstances bid the price of the building way up to meet their obligation to utilize "eminent domain" and acquire a property that requires $50 million to tear down

4) The owner gets Amtrak to pay him $20 Million to take over a environmental wreck and He/She does not have to worry about it ever again....

If I was the owner, I would agree to sell that hulk to Amtrak for $1 with a full bulletproof agreement that the current owner will never ever be responsible for any future damages from possibly toxic materials that may be on the site. That would be from City, State and Federal Regulations. But I doubt that Amtrak has anything like the authority to grant that immunity.
  by Railjunkie
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 3:05 pm Mr. Junkie, don't your "powers that be" know the Boy Scout motto? "Be Prepared".

You know better than I, of course (closest I get to Albany is South Kent CT, for my SKS Alumni Reunions that occur every five years. However, I'm going back, God willing, next year for the School's Centenary. Best have "checkbook in hand"!!!!), but considering that hulk "is not exactly stable", who knows when the condition that brought about the embargo last weekend will reoccur?

I would think their isn't a Passenger Engineer holding seniority at your Base who would not like to be so Rules Qualified CP187 to Selkirk. I really think Amtrak is being "penny wise, pound foolish" not to proceed with such.
I could give you a list of ex CSX employees, there are a few that were asked none volunteered. I myself really have no interest and the folks on the extra list would not have the choice. Bunch of engineers who are no longer qualified on the CSX book of rules or they have the rules but no longer have their qualifications on the Mohawk. If there were to be any long term outage I would think most of the seniority would be going to NY not Syracuse you stand to lose to much held away time with the detour. The jobs would likely go pretty cheap.
As for the rest, Its well above my pay grade.
  by rcthompson04
 
NYCRRson wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:34 pm […]
If I was the owner, I would agree to sell that hulk to Amtrak for $1 with a full bulletproof agreement that the current owner will never ever be responsible for any future damages from possibly toxic materials that may be on the site. That would be from City, State and Federal Regulations. But I doubt that Amtrak has anything like the authority to grant that immunity.
What would be just compensation for a property with likely negative value? If a site is worth $10 million, but takes $50 million to realize that $10 million in value, it is really worth negative $40 million.

In terms of liabilities, Amtrak as a for-profit corporation (regardless of its ownership) could offer an indemnity to the seller unless expressly prohibited by statute.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
OK Mr. Junkie, I get it. So if that hulk of a structure decides to "come on down" (just like some chunk of the one in Beirut has now done), operating over Alfred H and bypassing Albany would create a whole set of problems, for the "four a day" so affected.

Apparently, the jobs would need be advertised as Syracuse- NY with Syracuse as home. That means lodging in NY (I think that dump opposite NYP got shut down) - and you know Amtrak is not about to spend anything on that they don't have to.

Further, 48-49, with its greater than six hour schedule. would require under the existing Labor Agreement, assignment of an Assistant as well.

I further guess that the 7XX P-32's would have to venture as far as Syracuse, further placing strains on the availability of such.

You further suggest that no one would want those jobs (God knows you know better than I) so they would be force assigned, and having to deal with continued "bidding off" as soon as an occupant could hold something else.

All told, you hold, and management just might as well, that turning the "four a day" operating West of Albany at Schenectady would be best with a "busteetoot" to Albany, and with those runs continuing as ALB-NYP "for the duration".
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Ken W2KB
 
NYCRRson wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:34 pm §24311. Acquiring interests in property by eminent domain
(a) General Authority.—(1) To the extent financial resources are available, Amtrak may acquire by eminent domain under subsection (b) of this section interests in property—
(A) necessary for intercity rail passenger transportation, except property of a rail carrier, a State, a political subdivision of a State, or a governmental authority; or

So first off. Amtrak can operate their trains on the property of a rail carrier (CSX) past the building in question, they CANNOT use eminent domain to take ownership of the tracks.
"Necessary for intercity rail passenger transportation" would include property necessary to operate safely, in this instance the ability to acquire the building to ensure safe operation past this point. This being a civil statute, a court is empowered to and indeed required to look to the intent of the legislature in enacting the legislation. A court in all probability would not interpret this statutory language so narrowly so as to prevent exercise of eminent domain when safe operation is not possible and the property owner has refused all reasonable requests to promptly remedy the condition or transfer title to the property under reasonable terms and conditions. I am not an expert in New York State law, but as is true in other jurisdictions with which I am familiar, if New York law is similar, the municipality acquires a lien on real property for the amount of delinquent taxes and sells that lien at a public auction sale. If there are no bidders, then the municipality would acquire title. Were by this or other means a government entity to take title to the property, that could be an impediment, and might have to be resolved by political means.
  by daybeers
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 3:05 pm closest I get to Albany is South Kent CT, for my SKS Alumni Reunions that occur every five years.
Do we need to cite your alma mater in nearly every thread?
  by andrewjw
 
NYCRRson wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 8:39 pm " There are completely non-government related corporate entities, primarily in the transportation business, that have eminent domain authority, such as interstate natural gas pipelines and electric transmission and distribution utilities"

Interesting, can you cite any examples where Amtrak has used it's alleged eminent domain authority to "take over ownership" of existing rail lines without the cooperation of a gubermint ?

Funny thing, some natural gas pipeline operators wanted to build a pipeline through the New York City Area to provide more natural gas to New England... The State of New York prevented these all powerful "corporate entities" from using their "alleged" eminent domain powers and stated with great fan fare; "No way in heck is some evil pipeline company building a pipeline across New York State into New England....

Guess that Eminent Domain Authority that the pipeline, electric companies, and Amtrak has does not work if the gubermint does not want something.

The Eminent Domain Authority rests with gubermint entities (mostly at the State and Federal level).

Amtrak by itself can no more "seize" that building and tear it down than you or I could....

I think you are blowing smoke.
You might find one of these useful: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/545/469/

Also one of these: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0877791325
  by west point
 
Do not forget that Amtrak did use eminent domain to acquire the Springfield MA to CV rail line. Believe it then transferred the line to MBTA?
  by Safetee
 
actually I believe that that Amtrak took the piece from Brattleboro to Windsor VT from the bm in the 90s. Panam Southern sold the springfield to northfield piece to the mbta.
  by NYCRRson
 
"What would be just compensation for a property with likely negative value? If a site is worth $10 million, but takes $50 million to realize that $10 million in value, it is really worth negative $40 million.

In terms of liabilities, Amtrak as a for-profit corporation (regardless of its ownership) could offer an indemnity to the seller unless expressly prohibited by statute."

Well, Amtrak could offer the current owner minus 40 million dollars to acquire the property. And when the property owner declines Amtrak could attempt to acquire the property using eminent domain and try to "take over" the property and also get 40 million dollars from the owner.... That should be an interesting court case.... "I want your stuff and you have to pay me to take your stuff, I'm from the gubermint and I'm here to help".....

"Amtrak as a for-profit corporation" Har Har Har, surely you are speaking in jest.... The original laws that set up Amtrak required that it "Make a Profit" within some time limit or be eliminated... No politician (except Ronald Regan) had the courage to suggest that since Amtrak has NEVER achieved a "for profit" status it should be eliminated...

I think the best solution is for Amtrak to simply cease all unprofitable services West of Albany NY. Problem Solved.
  by NYCRRson
 
"if New York law is similar, the municipality acquires a lien on real property for the amount of delinquent taxes and sells that lien at a public auction sale. If there are no bidders, then the municipality would acquire title."

Exactly, if the City of Albany "acquires the property as the result of unpaid taxes (a lien)" then the City of Albany assumes all of the liabilities related to an 8 story building built 100 years ago and ready to collapse onto adjacent properties.

This is why the City of Albany (via it's building code/inspector's office) is "ordering" the owners to make the repairs or "we will take over the property and make the repairs ourselves ?"

A bit of an empty threat, if you don't fix it, we will confiscate it and pay to fix it ourselves because it is now our property...
  by Railjunkie
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 12:55 pm OK Mr. Junkie, I get it. So if that hulk of a structure decides to "come on down" (just like some chunk of the one in Beirut has now done), operating over Alfred H and bypassing Albany would create a whole set of problems, for the "four a day" so affected.

Apparently, the jobs would need be advertised as Syracuse- NY with Syracuse as home. That means lodging in NY (I think that dump opposite NYP got shut down) - and you know Amtrak is not about to spend anything on that they don't have to.

Further, 48-49, with its greater than six hour schedule. would require under the existing Labor Agreement, assignment of an Assistant as well.

I further guess that the 7XX P-32's would have to venture as far as Syracuse, further placing strains on the availability of such.

You further suggest that no one would want those jobs (God knows you know better than I) so they would be force assigned, and having to deal with continued "bidding off" as soon as an occupant could hold something else.

All told, you hold, and management just might as well, that turning the "four a day" operating West of Albany at Schenectady would be best with a "busteetoot" to Albany, and with those runs continuing as ALB-NYP "for the duration".
Engineer tuns would be NYP/ALB, ALB/SYR, SYR/NFL with the exception being the Lake Shore which is SYR/BUF no need for a second engineer. Train crew would be NYP/ALB, ALB/NFL exception with the Lake Shore ALB/BUF just like they are now. The issue is IF there was a prolonged detour five of the top ten engineers in Albany work the ALB/SYR turns fro the 2.5 hours on duty and the held away time. The jobs pay pretty well. The detour would suck up the held away money and add time to your trip making it less appealing for both engineer and train crew.
ALB Albany Rennselaer
NYP New York
SYR Syracuse
NFL Niagara Falls NY
BUF Buffalo
Still think like a conductor with station codes
Dealing with CSX is no picnic Ive just had the chance to talk with one my brother raccoons that just finished his trips on the detour route before the plug was pulled 60-90 minutes to do 35 miles over double track territory. That is before you hit the other 121 miles of who knows out to Syracuse.

As for the dual modes regular runs to Niagara Falls NY east to Burlington VT, Boston (there are pictures to prove it) and of course New York. They do try and keep them out of Canada but they have made it to Toronto and Montreal.
  by charlesriverbranch
 
NYCRRson wrote: Thu Aug 04, 2022 9:34 pm If I was the owner, I would agree to sell that hulk to Amtrak for $1 with a full bulletproof agreement that the current owner will never ever be responsible for any future damages from possibly toxic materials that may be on the site. That would be from City, State and Federal Regulations. But I doubt that Amtrak has anything like the authority to grant that immunity.
I think federal law would trump any such agreement. I was involved some years ago with a transaction that included an old building. The buyer of the company needed assurance that there had never been hazardous waste on the site in its history -- even though the buyer would not take possession of the building, which was going to a third party.

We were told that federal law prescribed something called "joint and several liability": any previous owner of the building would be liable for the entire cost of a federal Superfund cleanup, even someone taking ownership of a corporate entity that had once owned the site. The feds could go after the seller, regardless of the terms of the sale. Basically, you don't want to go near anything that might have hazardous waste requiring a Superfund cleanup.
  by Railjunkie
 
lvrr325 wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 4:04 am My vote is the place falls down on it's own before anyone will do anything about it.
Im with you :-D
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