Who Owns Property Which Has Been Conveyed Under a Bridge ?
In City of Philadelphia v. Consolidated Rail Corporation, 343 U.S. App. D.C. 53, 222 F.3d 990 (D.C. Cir. 2000), the Court of Appeals specifically addressed the issue of bridge ownership.
In that case, although the Special Court had determined that Conrail and Amtrak owned the real property under the 41st Street Bridge which had been conveyed to them by its previous owner, Penn Central, on appeal the Court stated:
Because this case presented a question that will likely rise again in the context of litigation over the so-called "orphan bridges" to which neither the railroads nor the municipalities claim title, and because state law governing ownership of the bridge is dispositive of the question of contractual allocation of maintenance agreements, we concluded that an authoritative response to the question would assist in establishing uniformity in future proceedings.
The Court further concluded that the precise effect of the ordinance contracts on questions of bridge ownership is purely a question of state law.
The Court therefore petitioned the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for certification of the question of state law under 204 PA CODE 29.451 (1999).
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court helpfully granted our petition, and has now decided the certified question. Id. at 993.