Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 13. Railroad Corporations
2/26/2021

§ 56-429. Company to erect fences along roadbed; cattle guards, etc.

Upon the written request by certified mail to the registered agent of the railroad in question of any landowner whose land adjoins the railroad and whose land is otherwise enclosed for the purpose of maintaining livestock, every railroad company shall cause fences to be erected along its line and on both sides of its roadbed and shall keep such fences in proper repair. Such fence shall be adequate to enclose livestock. The owners of adjoining lands may connect their fences with such fences at such places as they may deem proper. In erecting such fences the company shall, at the termini of those portions of the roadbed which it is required to fence, and on each side of all public and private crossings, construct across its roadbed and keep in good repair cattle guards reasonably sufficient to turn all kinds of livestock, with which its fences shall be connected. Such cattle guards at private crossings may be dispensed with if the company erects sufficient gates and maintains them in good order.

Such fences shall be constructed on the request of the landowner, in writing, by certified mail, to the registered agent of such railroad. If the company refuses or fails, for 180 days after such request, to construct or maintain the fences at the place designated, the owner, having given ten days' notice in writing to such registered agent, may apply to the circuit court of the county or city in which any such point is located for the appointment of three disinterested freeholders, whose duty it shall be to go on the land and determine whether the proposed fence shall be constructed. Their decision shall be in writing, and shall be forthwith returned to and filed in the office of the clerk of such court. If such decision is that the fence ought to be constructed, the company shall, within sixty days thereafter, construct the same. Upon its failure so to do, it shall pay to the landowner fifty dollars for every day of such failure. Any style of fence approved by the State Corporation Commission shall, if properly constructed and maintained, be deemed a sufficient fence within the meaning of this chapter. Any delay in construction or maintenance caused by inclement weather, war, strikes, acts of God, national emergencies or failure of any local, state, or federal governmental agencies to grant permits shall extend the aforesaid period.

Any such company may erect gates or bars instead of the cattle guards required by this section, if, in the judgment of the company, the hazard to trains at such crossings requires gates or bars as a safeguard to life and property on the trains. If such fence, cattle guard or gate is destroyed or damaged due to the negligence of the landowner, the landowner shall be solely responsible for restoring or repairing such fence, cattle guard or gate.

The circuit court of the county or city wherein any such fence or cattle guard, or any portion thereof, is to be erected or built pursuant to this section shall have jurisdiction through its power to grant equitable relief to compel the erection of any such fence, or building of any such cattle guards along or adjoining lands or lots actually enclosed.

Code 1919, § 3946; 1994, c. 352.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.