October 2, the City of New York filed a request to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to hold in abeyance STB action regarding the "rail-banking" of the High Line while the City holds discussions with affected stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues. The STB has granted the request, giving the City until January 5, 2004, to come back to the Board.
What does this mean? As many of you know, "rail-banking" the High Line (converting it to public open space through federal rails-to-trails legislation) requires approval from the STB, which has jurisdiction over all interstate rail lines. In December 2002, the City of New York formally started the process by filing a request with the STB for a Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU) for the High Line. A group of underlying property owners contested the legality of a CITU in this particular case, and the matter was the subject of a July 2003 hearing by the STB in New York City. By requesting the abeyance, the City hopes to engage in discussions with the affected stakeholders, including FHL, the railroads involved, relevant State agencies, and underlying property owners, with the aim of coming back to the STB with consensus. FHL will continue to keep you informed about the progress of this important issue.