People

Charles A. Spitulnik

Partner

Washington, DC Office
202.955.5600 C 301.651.3629

Education and Clerkships

J.D., University of Virginia, 1979
M.S.W., Syracuse University, 1975
B.A., with high honors, Oberlin College, 1973

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia
Virginia
Maryland
New York
United States Supreme Court
United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits
Many Federal District Courts

Charles A. Spitulnik

Chuck Spitulnik has spent his entire legal career representing both public and private sector clients on issues relating, in one way or another, to the rail industry.  For the past 25 years, his practice has focused on representation of state and local governments in addressing issues related to the rail companies that serve their communities or to the issues that arise when those communities develop and implement plans for operation of rail transit systems, whether commuter rail, light rail, or heavy rail systems. 

Chuck regularly advises clients on issues related to negotiation of agreements with both freight railroads and Amtrak for acquisition or use of their lines; developing arrangements (including the procurement documents when required) with those railroads and with third-party operators for the operation of the rail transit systems in that right-of-way; compliance with the complex web of federal legislation and regulation of the rail industry as well as with state laws and other requirements; and understanding and addressing the unique features of the rail and transit-related labor laws and the protections available to workers in the industry.

Chuck also advises private industries regarding their relationships with rail carriers and has assisted companies in the formation of their own proprietary industry or switching carriers to enable them to have better control over their own transportation needs.  Before shifting his focus to representation of the public sector, Chuck gained extensive experience representing freight carriers in the planning and submission of transactions that require governmental approval. 

Additionally, Chuck has expertise in the acquisition, leasing, and financing of rail equipment and other issues related to rail equipment ownership, including the regulation of rail equipment pools.  He practices regularly before the Surface Transportation Board and interacts frequently with regulators from the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration, assisting clients in ensuring compliance with—and, when appropriate, seeking waivers from—those agencies’ rules.

Representative Experience

Southern California Regional Rail Authority, California
Represent SCRRA and its predecessor agency in the negotiation of agreements with three freight railroads for acquisition of their lines; assist agency staff and represent in negotiations first with “turnkey” operator for system that provided all aspects of the operation, maintenance, and dispatching of the system, and then in splitting out the contracts for those services to individual agreements for each major activity (train operations, equipment maintenance, right-of-way maintenance, signal and communication system maintenance, dispatching); advise SCRRA in actions required to bring dispatch function “in-house” and work with Railroad Retirement Board to secure ruling that preserves SCRRA’s overall status as a non-railroad employer except for dispatchers; represent agency before Surface Transportation Board, Federal Railroad Administration, and Railroad Retirement Board and in judicial proceedings related to those matters as issues arise.

South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Florida
Represent SFRTA in negotiations with Florida DOT and with CSX Transportation, Inc. related to transfer of responsibility for train dispatching and for maintenance of right-of-way and signal systems on South Florida Rail Corridor used in operation of SFRTA’s Tri-Rail commuter service; represent SFRTA in negotiations with FDOT and All Aboard Florida related to creation and operation of Tri-Rail Coast Link commuter service on corridor to be used by AAF for operation of its high speed intercity rail service; advising SFRTA on issues arising under Railroad Retirement laws and federal labor protection arrangements applicable to rail and transit system employees.

New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York
Represent NYCEDC and the City of New York in preservation of Highline corridor on Manhattan’s west side as premier urban amenity under Rails-to-Trails Act; represent NYCEDC and the City in proceedings involving acquisition of Consolidated Rail Corporation assets by CSXT and Norfolk Southern, and secure preservation of competitive rail service on the east-of-Hudson rail corridor; represent NYCEDC in proceedings at STB related to reactivation of freight rail service on Staten Island, including construction of new intermodal waste transfer facility and reactivation of used rail yard; represent City’s interest in preserving cross harbor rail float service to City-owned facilities on Brooklyn waterfront.

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia
Advise and assist the BeltLine in negotiations with railroads for acquisition of corridor segments for creation of trail/transit/park; represent the BeltLine in regulatory proceedings and in negotiations with federal and state agencies related to the corridor acquisitions.

Regional Transportation District, Denver, Colorado
Participate in team of Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell attorneys assisting RTD in negotiation of agreements with freight railroads for acquisition of corridors for operation of extended FasTracks system; represent RTD in negotiation with Amtrak for long term lease by Amtrak of portions of renovated Denver Union Station building, track, and facilities.

Awards / Professional and Civic Activities

  • Oberlin College Alumni Association (President, 2013–2015)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Top Rated Lawyer, Labor & Employment Law (2013–2014)
  • The Musical Theater Center (now Adventure Theater MTC), Rockville, MD (Member Board of Directors, 1999–2006; President, 2002–2005)
  • Washington Waldorf School, Bethesda, MD (Adjunct Faculty, 1996–Present; Board of Directors, 1998–2004; Chairman, 1999–2003)
  • Association of Transportation Law Professionals (Editor, Highlights Commuter Rail Column; Program Chair, Annual Meeting 2013)

News & Publications

Presentations

54th Annual TRB Workshop on Transportation Law
07.20.15
American Public Transportation Association International Practicum on Innovative Transit Funding & Financing
06.16.14
American Public Transportation Association Rail Conference
06.04.13
Annual Association of Transportation Law Professionals Meeting
06.28.11
Who's Track Are We On, Anyway?
80th Annual Association of Transportation Law Professionals Meeting
06.29.09
American Public Transportation Association Legislative Conference
03.09.09
79th Annual Association of Transportation Law Professionals Meeting
07.01.08
American Public Transportation Association Legal Affairs Seminar
February 2008
American Public Transportation Association Legal Affairs Seminar
February 2008

Publications

Transportation Research Board's National Cooperative Rail Research Program
February 2016
Association Highlights by Association of Transportation Law Professionals at pages 9–17
May/June 2010
Use of Freight Rail Lines for Commuter Operations: Public Interest, Private Property
Co-Authored with Jamie P. Rennert
26 Transportation Law Journal 319 
Summer 1999
Peaceful Coexistence Between Local Governments and Freight Rail Lines: An Impossible Dream
Co-Authored with Jamie P. Rennert
40 Municipal Lawyer 1 at 10 
January/February 1999

Education and Clerkships

J.D., University of Virginia, 1979
M.S.W., Syracuse University, 1975
B.A., with high honors, Oberlin College, 1973

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia
Virginia
Maryland
New York
United States Supreme Court
United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits
Many Federal District Courts