Absurd 200-Foot ‘Railway’ Demolished After Court Closes Shipping Loophole

Its operator was lucky not to be fined $350 million.

byJames Gilboy|
Absurd 200-Foot ‘Railway’ Demolished After Court Closes Shipping Loophole

The Bayside Canadian Railway, a 200-foot pseudo-railroad in Canada, has seemingly been dismantled after a court closed the legal loophole it was built to exploit. The rails have apparently been torn up and paved over, wiping away evidence that the so-called railway ever existed. We contacted the owner who didn't comment on the railway before publishing. We'll update this story if we hear back.

Built around 2012, the Bayside Canadian Railway was operated by a subsidiary of American Seafoods to circumvent the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act. The law requires shipping between American ports to be handled by American-built, American-flagged vessels, with an exemption for goods moved by rail in Canada. The Bayside Canadian Railway used this loophole to push semi-trucks containing foreign-shipped seafood 100 feet down a short railway and back, ostensibly fulfilling the Jones Act's rail shipping clause.

The U.S. Department of Justice disagreed when it became aware of the railway's operations following a tip in August 2021. After a monthslong court battle, U.S. District Court Judge for Alaska Sharon L. Gleason issued a mixed ruling in May 2022, according to Seafood Source. Gleason reportedly waived $350 million in fines issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection but declared the Bayside Canadian Railway noncompliant with the Jones Act. The verdict required American Seafoods and its subsidiaries to find a new way to ship seafood into the United States, bringing the Bayside Canadian Railway's usefulness to an end.

And so, the rails allegedly have been torn up as of 2023. Exclusive satellite photos show the flatbed rail cars that rode on the 200 feet of track have been removed and may be stored adjacent to the building to its northwest. A Reddit user claiming to be a local wrote that "the rails have actually been removed and the area paved over." The resolution of the satellite photos isn't enough to determine whether that had happened as of November 2022 when the latter photo was taken, and they did not respond to an inquiry at the time of publication.

The changes haven't yet been reflected on Google Maps, but it's clear the Bayside Canadian Railway's number has been called. What once was a sneaky circumvention of maritime shipping laws is now just a memory; a criminal curio whose legacy in the legal and railroading worlds will long outlast its mere decade in operation.

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