Union Pacific operates railroad track throughout the United States and conducts a significant amount of freight shipping through Chicago. At the center of this litigation is a piece of railroad property owned by Union Pacific, which we refer to as the “Right of Way.” The Right of Way consists of an elevated structure on a man-made enbankment, running east to west for approximately 2.8 miles from Laramie Avenue in Chicago to Harlem Avenue in Oak Park, Illinois. This property is roughly 90 to 95 feet wide along most of its length. It covers an area greater than 32 acres (approximately 1,407,812 square feet), and includes 23 bridges over local streets. On the Right of Way, Union Pacific operates three railroad tracks.
Union Pacific also leases approximately 40% of the Right of Way (just under 13 acres) to the CTA, which is a municipal corporation providing mass transportation services for the city of Chicago. In the leased property, the CTA owns and operates two electric-powered local rapid transit tracks that run parallel to Union Pacific’s three tracks. This arrangement between the CTA and Union Pacific has continued without interruption since 1962 and is governed by a written lease agreement.
Under the terms of the lease, the CTA must use the Right of Way only for passenger transportation, it must maintain its tracks in good condition, and it must get Union Pacific’s approval before constructing new CTA facilities such as tracks, platforms, stations, and stairways. Union Pacific, however, maintains the Right of the Way and the joint facilities shared with the CTA, such as retaining walls, drainage facilities, and bridges. The distance between the CTA’s and Union Pacific’s closest tracks is approximately five feet for the entire length of the Right of Way. Because of this close proximity, Union Pacific must modify its regular maintenance procedures and use non-standard inspection procedures when maintaining the Right of Way. The lease also requires the CTA to reimburse Union Pacific for 40% of the cost of maintaining the Right of Way and the joint facilities, including constructing new joint facilities. Finally, the lease terminates if the CTA stops passenger transportation—other than temporary shutdowns for maintenance and repair—or if the CTA fails to make rental payments or to fulfill any of the lease’s other conditions. As long as the CTA keeps its commitments, the lease does not expire but continues indefinitely.
Judge(s): Daniel Manion
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Related Categories: Constitutional Law , Contracts , Property , Transportation
|Circuit Court Judge(s)|
|Trial Court Judge(s)|
|Robert Dow, Jr.|
|Amicus Lawyer(s)||Amicus Law Firm(s)|
|Jane Notz||United States Department of Justice|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Richard Friedman||Neal & Leroy, LLC|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|Thomas Andreoli||Union Pacific Railroad Company|