The right of way or easement can be for utilities, roads, trails, pipelines, or whatever else egress or ingress is granted on a property.
The path of the easement is defined in the right of way agreement or contract.At
times a definition is not set forth and the easement can cover the entire tract of
land in question.
The length of time or duration of the contract or right to use the easement is
defined in the right of way agreement. Or it is not. At times when there is no
defined end or termination clause in the contract, it might go on forever or in
Other determinants are set out in the contract that determine various conditions
such as damages to land, damages to crops, rights to add other fixtures or
appurtenances to existing fixtures, etc. Almost anything that is negotiated
between the grantor and grantee can be included in the easement or right of way
Often there are provisions for mediation or arbitration should the parties disagree
on provisions. Sometimes not.
The agreement should be the last word and the law, but it is always subject to
interpretation. For the most part, the agreement are clear and precise as to rights
and privileges of the grantee from the grantor. I believe that we will see more and
more emphasis on the letter and intent of all parties regarding this type of
I remember seeing one contract written in 1942 for a crude oil pipeline running
several hundred miles through Texas. Everyone was boilerplate duplicated.
Exactly the same terms and wording on each. In my mind, I can hear the right of
way agent telling the landowner, “The Nazis are coming, the Nazis are coming!”
So they all signed away rights of way in perpetuity. The line has not been used
for years and the easement is not maintained and the taxes are relegated to
The Texas Railroad Commission states the line as
abandoned as far as there jurisdiction is concerned, but the pipeline company
still claims it is theirs. Go figure. I don’t think this sort of interpretation by pipeline
companies will hold up when challenged. This is partially the reason there will be
more regulation on these old systems and soon.
Pipeline Appraisal Institute
International Right of Way Association
Pipeliners Association of Houston
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