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Detroit United Railway v. Detroit, 229 U.S. 39 (1913)

Detroit United Railway v. Detroit

No. 1047

Submitted May 5, 1913

Decided May 26, 1913

229 U.S. 39


Franchises granting rights of the public must be in plain language, certain and definite in terms and containing no ambiguities. They are to be strictly construed against the grantee. Cleveland Electric Ry. Co. v. Cleveland, 204 U. S. 116.

An ordinance requiring a street railway company to comply with certain conditions on all of it lines until the expiration of the franchise of longest duration held not to constitute a contract, extending all the franchises to the date of such expiration, within the protection of the contract clause of the federal Constitution.

Where a street railroad company is operating in the streets of a city for a definite period and has enjoyed the full term granted, the

Page 229 U. S. 40

municipality may, upon failure of renewal of the grant, require the company within a reasonable time to remove it tracks and other property from the streets, without impairing any contractual obligation protected by the federal Constitution or depriving the company of its property without due process of law.

156 Mich. 106 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a decree of the state court holding that certain franchises of the railway company had expired and that it should pay the city temporary rental for the use of certain streets or vacate those streets, are stated in the opinion.

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