Appeal, No. 205, March T., 1958, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, March T., 1957, No. 104, in case of Harmony Realty Company v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Judgment affirmed.
Harold F. Reed, Jr., with him Reed, Ewing, Orr & Reed, for appellant.
R. L. Brennan, with him John Alan Conte, Conte & Courtney, Frank E. Roda, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas D. McBride, Attorney General, and John R. Rezzolla, Jr., Chief Counsel, Pennsylvania Department of Highways, for appellee.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones and Cohen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO.
The Harmony Realty Company, the plaintiff, owned in Big Beaver Township, Beaver County, a strip of land some 6,080 feet long and approximately 60 feet wide, broken by a gap of 1000 feet at the southern end. The total area involved 9.568 acres. Of this the Commonwealth condemned 7.846 acres for the purpose of reconstructing and relocating State Highway Route
No. 18. The remaining fragments of the plaintiff's land became commercially valueless so that, objectively, the Commonwealth's taking of the plaintiff's property was complete.
The Board of Viewers awarded the plaintiff company $13,725 in damages. The Commonwealth appealed and gained a reduction to $5,000 in the ensuing jury trial. The plaintiff moved for a new trial on inadequacy of verdict which was refused by the lower Court. This appeal followed.
The land in question was at one time a right of way owned by the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway Company between the City of Beaver Falls and the Borough of Homewood. When the railway was discontinued, circa 1934, the tracks were taken up and three bridges spanning ravines en route were dismantled. As so often happens, when a railroad through a non-populous area is abandoned and the rails removed, the land on which it once rested deteriorates in value. Through disuse and neglect it eventually degenerates into a "barren waste, a wild of sand."
The plaintiff company maintains that its property could still be used for a transportational right-of-way or for the laying of pipe lines. It called three real estate expert witnesses who testified, respectively, that it was worth $21,000, $13,725, and $15,250. The Commonwealth, to the contrary, contended that the terrain involved was practically worthless; that it was incapable of utilization for carrying underground pipe lines because the substratum of the earth was too rocky, and that it could not be used for railroad purposes because of the absence of bridges to carry traffic over the many hollows ...