Federal Lawsuit Filed by Ottawa Northern Railroad Halts Safe Routes to School Construction of the Maple Leaf Trail

August 24, 2023

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On Tuesday, August 22, 2023, Ottawa Northern Railroad (ONR) filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas against the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the City of Baldwin City demanding construction be halted on the Maple Leaf Trail, an integral portion of Baldwin City Safe Routes to School initiative. 

As of today, Thursday, August 24, 2023, construction has been suspended on the Maple Leaf Trail pending a resolution of ONR’s motion for preliminary injunction that requests work on the trail be shut down. The Honorable Kathryn H. Vratil has set a hearing on ONR’s motion for September 26th, 2023 at 1 pm at the Robert F. Dole Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Baldwin City is optimistic that this litigation will be quickly resolved and the Maple Leaf Trail completed so that our community’s students will have a safe route when walking or biking to school,” said Casey Simoneau, Mayor of Baldwin City. “Our Baldwin City families should feel secure sending their kids to school – the Maple Leaf Trail will help ensure our students are safe when they leave home.”

The Maple Leaf Trail development is an integral portion of the Safe Routes to School program. The initiative’s primary goal is to develop safe routes for all and improve the health and well-being of children by encouraging them to safely walk and bicycle to school. In particular, the Maple Leaf Trail will provide safe access to both the Baldwin City School Primary and Intermediate Centers that serve pre-kindergarten through 5th grade students. 

While the concrete pathway of the Maple Leaf Trail has been fully constructed, additional construction and fencing is required before the Maple Leaf Trail can be open to the public. The pending litigation and incomplete construction of the Maple Leaf Trail require that the trail remain closed to the public until further notice.