Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
11/20/2019

Article 4. Crossings and Connections.

§ 56-16. Wagonways to be constructed across roads, railroads, canals, and other works; enforcement.

For the purpose of this section, "wagonway" means a vehicular crossing adequate to permit the passage of machinery and vehicles used for agricultural or forestal purposes, including but not limited to the transportation of agricultural and forestal products to markets. Every public service corporation whose road, railroad, canal, or works passes through the lands of any person in this Commonwealth shall provide and maintain proper and suitable wagonways across such road, railroad, canal, or other works, from one part of such land to the other, and shall keep such wagonways in good repair. Such wagonways shall be constructed and maintained on the request of the landowner, in writing, by certified mail, made to the registered agent for the corporation owning such road, railroad, canal, or other works at that point, and shall designate the points at which the wagonways are desired. If the company fails or refuses for ninety days after such request to construct and maintain wagonways of a convenient and proper character at the places designated, then the owner may apply to the circuit court of the county or city wherein such land is located for the appointment of three disinterested persons whose lands do not abut on such road, railroad, canal, or other works, who shall constitute a board of commissioners whose duty it shall be to go upon the land and determine whether the requested wagonways should be constructed and maintained.

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 government agencies to grant permits shall extend the aforesaid period. The decision of such board shall be in writing and, if favorable to the landowner, shall set forth the points at which the wagonways should be constructed and maintained, giving also a description of what should be done by the company to make and maintain a suitable and convenient wagonway. The decision of the board of commissioners shall be returned to, and filed in, the clerk's office of such court, and when called up at the next or any succeeding term of such court, it shall be confirmed, unless good cause is shown against it by the company. Either party shall have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court from the judgment of the court. If the company fails, within a reasonable time fixed by the court at the time of the confirmation of a report favorable to the landowner, to make and maintain the wagonways therein referred to, it shall pay the landowner fifty dollars for each day of such failure, which may be recovered on motion by the landowner against the company, in the circuit court of the county or city wherein such land is located having jurisdiction to try the same. The commissioners shall each receive for their services the sum of fifty dollars per day, to be taxed as a part of the costs of the proceeding.

Once the right to such wagonway has been established, should the railroad change the grade of any portion of the tracks across which such wagonway passes, it shall be the duty of the railroad to make whatever reasonable modifications of the wagonway are necessary within the railroad right-of-way to permit the passage of the aforesaid machinery and vehicles.

Code 1919, § 3883; 1994, c. 352.

§ 56-16.1. Telephone, telegraph or electric power lines crossing railroads.

A. If a telephone, telegraph or electric power company desires to cross the works of a railroad company and the parties thereto cannot agree on the manner of the crossing or the compensation to be paid or the damages, if any, occasioned by such crossing, then either party may proceed under this section in such case. Such party, after complying with the provisions of §§ 56-17 and 56-18, insofar as they are applicable, may apply to the Commission within thirty days after the submission of the plans and specifications required in § 56-18, to inquire into the necessity for such crossing, the propriety of the proposed location, all matters pertaining to its construction and operation, and the crossing fee and damages, if any, to be paid to such railroad.

B. Every such application shall, in addition to the plans and specifications required in § 56-18, set forth (i) the means applicant proposes to employ to protect persons and property on the premises of the railroad; (ii) the extent to which applicant will safeguard the railroad from damage or destruction of persons or property resulting from such crossing including a provision to save the railroad harmless from claims arising as a result of such crossing; (iii) the conditions under which usage of the crossing will terminate and all interests revert to the railroad; and (iv) the means which applicant proposes to employ to prevent interference with the unlimited use of the property by the railroad including, but without limitation, the communication and transportation system on the property proposed to be crossed. The Commission may, at its discretion, require the applicant to provide a bond or insurance conditioned to save the railroad harmless from claims arising as a result of such crossing. The Commission may, as provided in § 56-19, employ experts to advise it with reference to such application.

C. If the Commission grants such application in whole or in part, the order of the Commission shall grant a license for such crossing upon compliance with the terms of the order, and shall fix a fee for such crossing and determine the damages, if any; in fixing the amount of such fees the Commission shall consider the costs involved to the company to be crossed and the periodic inspection of such works.

D. Construction shall not begin until permitted under an order provided for in paragraph C hereof unless the parties agree thereto; provided that the Commission may allow construction to proceed pending the determination of the fee and damages, if any.

1976, c. 328.

§ 56-16.2. Public utility lines crossing railroads.

A. As used in this section:

"Municipality" means a city, county, town, authority, or other political subdivision of the Commonwealth.

"Public utility line" means any line, wire, pipe, or conduit that is used in connection with the provision of water, sewer, or telecommunications service by a municipality, and includes any poles and other appurtenant fixtures and structures that are necessary and appropriate for the operation and support of such line, wire, pipe, or conduit.

B. If a municipality desires to cross the works of a railroad company with a public utility line and the municipality and railroad company cannot agree on the manner of the crossing or the compensation to be paid or the damages, if any, occasioned by such crossing, then either party, after complying with the provisions of §§ 56-17 and 56-18, insofar as they are applicable, may apply to the Commission within 30 days after the submission of the plans and specifications required in § 56-18 to inquire into the necessity for such crossing, the propriety of the proposed location, all matters pertaining to its construction and operation, and a fee for such crossing and damages, if any, to be paid to the railroad company.

C. Every such application shall, in addition to the plans and specifications required in § 56-18, set forth (i) the means the applicant proposes to employ to protect persons and property on the premises of the railroad; (ii) standard railroad liability protection insurance to safeguard the railroad from damage or destruction of persons or property resulting from such crossing, including a provision to save the railroad harmless from claims arising as a result of such crossing; (iii) the conditions under which usage of the crossing will terminate and all interests revert to the railroad; and (iv) the means which the applicant proposes to employ to prevent interference with the unlimited use of the property by the railroad including, but without limitation, the communication and transportation system on the property proposed to be crossed. The Commission may, at its discretion, require the applicant to provide a bond or insurance conditioned to save the railroad harmless from claims arising as a result of such crossing. The Commission may, as provided in § 56-19, employ experts to advise it with reference to such application.

D. If the Commission grants such application in whole or in part, the order of the Commission shall require the railroad to grant to the municipality a license for such crossing upon compliance with the terms of the order, and shall fix a fee for the crossing and determine the damages, if any. The amount of the fee for the crossing fixed by the Commission shall not exceed the actual costs reasonably expected to be incurred by the railroad company as a result of the crossing and the periodic inspection of such works but shall take into consideration the systemwide administrative and other costs of the railroad to implement utility crossing agreements.

E. Construction shall not begin until permitted under an order provided for in subsection D unless the parties agree thereto; however, the Commission may allow construction to proceed pending the determination of the fee and damages, if any.

2006, c. 383.

§ 56-17. Right of one public service corporation to cross the works of another; cost.

If any public service corporation deems it necessary in the construction of its works to cross the works of any other public service corporation, or if any renewable generator as defined in § 67-1100 deems it necessary to cross the works of a public service corporation in the construction of distribution facilities that are required to (i) connect a renewable energy facility that generates electricity to the electric distribution grid, (ii) distribute steam generated at a renewable energy facility, or (iii) distribute landfill gas, it may do so; provided such crossing shall be so located, constructed, and operated as not to impair, impede, or obstruct, in any material degree, the works and operations of the railroad, canal, turnpike, or other works to be crossed; and provided such crossing shall be supported by such permanent and proper structures and fixtures, and shall be controlled by such customary and approved appliances, methods, and regulations as will best secure the safe passage and transportation of persons and property along such crossing, and will not be injurious to the works of the company to be crossed. The cost of such crossings, their appliances and apparatus, and of the repair and operation of the same, shall be borne by the party desiring to make the crossing.

Code 1919, § 3884; 2009, c. 807.

§ 56-18. Submission of plans for such crossing.

Before any such work as is mentioned in § 56-17 is commenced, the president or general managing officer of the company which proposes to cross the works of another company shall submit plans, specifications and descriptions of the proposed crossing and of the proposed appliances and methods of operation thereof to the president or other general officer of the latter company; and if the plans, specifications and descriptions are accepted or if no notice of suspension of the work on such crossing by the Commission pursuant to § 56-19 is received by the first named company within thirty days after such plans, specifications and descriptions have been delivered to the president, or any general officer of the company whose works are to be crossed, the first named company may proceed with the construction and operation of the crossing, under the plans, specifications and descriptions, and with the appliances and methods, so submitted.

Code 1919, § 3884.

§ 56-19. Contest by company whose works are crossed.

Any company whose works are to be crossed under the provisions of §§ 56-17 and 56-18 may, within fifteen days from the date of the submission of the plans and specifications mentioned in § 56-18, apply to the State Corporation Commission to inquire into the necessity for such crossing, and the propriety of the proposed location, and all matters pertaining to its construction and operation; and thereupon, within thirty days from the date of such submission of plans and specifications, the Commission in its discretion may, by notice served upon both companies, suspend work on such crossing for such reasonable time, prescribed in the notice, as it may deem necessary to make such inquiry. The Commission may, in its discretion, where railroads or canals are to be crossed by other railroads or canals, employ expert engineers, at a cost not exceeding $500, to be paid equally by both companies, who shall, with the Commission, or some member thereof, or such person as the Commission may designate, (1) examine the location, plans, specifications and descriptions of appliances, and methods proposed to be employed, (2) hear any objections and consider any modifications that the company whose line is to be crossed desires to offer, and (3) within such time as the Commission may fix, reject, approve, or modify such plans and specifications. The final order of the Commission shall, unless an appeal be taken to the Supreme Court within thirty days from the date of the same, be final and binding on both companies.

Code 1919, § 3884.

§ 56-20. Payment for damage occasioned by crossing works of public service corporations.

If any such crossing as is provided for in §§ 56-17 to 56-19 cause damage to the works of any company, or to the owner or occupant of any lands, the company exercising the privileges granted by such sections shall make proper compensation for such damage.

Code 1919, § 3884.

§ 56-21. When work on crossing works of public service corporation to proceed; no injunction to be awarded.

Upon the failure of the company desiring to make any crossing pursuant to §§ 56-17 to 56-19 to receive notice of the suspension of the work on such crossing by the Commission, within thirty days after submission of the plans, specifications and descriptions as required by § 56-18, or upon the approval or modification of the plans, specifications and descriptions by the Commission, or, if an appeal be taken as aforesaid, upon the approval or modification by the Supreme Court of the plans, specifications and descriptions, and the payment of the proper compensation for damages by the company desiring to cross the works of another company, such damages to be ascertained according to the laws regulating the exercise of the right of eminent domain, work may be commenced immediately, and no order shall be made, and no injunction awarded, by any court or judge to stay the proceedings or prosecution of the work.

Code 1919, § 3884.

§ 56-22. Change of course of railroad, etc., to avoid crossings.

If any public service corporation desires that the course of any other railroad, turnpike, canal, or other works shall be changed to avoid the necessity of any crossing, or frequent crossings of the same, the change may be made in such manner and on such terms as may be agreed on by the company desiring the change, and the company, person, or county owning or having charge of the works to be affected by such change.

Code 1919, § 3884.

§ 56-23. Crossing of highway by public service corporation.

If any public service corporation deems it necessary in the construction of its works or in changing its grade or line or in double tracking the same, or if, for any reason, it is required to cross a state highway or county road at grade, or at an elevation above the grade or below the grade, of such highway or road, it may do so under the conditions set forth in §§ 56-24 through 56-32.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 411.

§ 56-24. Effect of crossing on highway.

Such crossing shall be so located, constructed and operated as not to impair, impede or obstruct, in any material degree, the state highway or county road to be crossed, and so that the use of such highway or road by the public will not be materially interfered with; and shall likewise be so located, constructed and operated as not to render such highway or road less safe and convenient for the passage or transportation of persons or property along the same.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 411.

§ 56-25. Manner of construction of crossing.

Such crossing shall be supported by such permanent and proper structures and fixtures, and shall be controlled by such customary and approved appliances, methods, and regulations as will best secure the safe passage and transportation of persons and property at and along the state highway or county road along the line of the public service corporation, and will not be injurious to the highway or road to be crossed. If an underpass or overhead or grade crossing be provided for the state highway or county road, it shall be constructed with proper approaches and proper drainage of the approaches and underpass or overhead or grade crossing, so that the road therein may be safe, convenient and dry.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 411.

§ 56-26. Cost of crossing.

The cost of any such crossing, its appliances and apparatus, and of the repair and operation of the same, shall be borne by the railroad, canal, or other public service corporation desiring or required to make the crossing.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 412.

§ 56-27. Applications required for crossings.

Before the work is commenced upon any such crossing, the public service corporation which proposes to cross the public road shall make written application to and submit to the board of supervisors or other governing body of the county in which such highway is located and to the Commissioner of Highways plans, specifications and descriptions of the proposed crossing and of the proposed appliances and methods of operation thereof; and if the plans, specifications and descriptions are not accepted by such board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid and by the Commissioner of Highways within sixty days after the same shall have been delivered to the clerk of such board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid and to the Commissioner of Highways, such public service corporation may then proceed with the construction and operation of the crossing, under the plans, specifications and descriptions and with the appliances and methods so submitted.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 412.

§ 56-28. Contest by county or Commissioner of Highways.

The board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid or the Commissioner of Highways may, however, within thirty days from the date of the submission of such plans, specifications and descriptions, reject the same, and may apply to the Commission to inquire into the necessity for such crossing, and the propriety of the proposed location, and all matters pertaining to its construction and operation; and, thereupon the Commission, in its discretion, may, after notice served upon the public service corporation, the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, and the Commissioner of Highways, suspend work on such crossing for such reasonable time prescribed in such notice as it may deem necessary to make such inquiry. The Commission may, in its discretion, employ expert engineers, at a cost not to exceed $500, to be paid by the public service corporation desiring the crossing, who shall, with the Commission, or some member thereof, or such person as the Commission may designate, (1) examine the location, plans, specifications and descriptions of appliances and methods proposed to be employed, (2) hear any objection, and consider any modification that the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, or the Commissioner of Highways, may desire to offer, and, (3) within such time as the Commission may fix, reject, approve, or modify such plans, specifications and descriptions. The final order of the Commission shall, unless an appeal be taken to the Supreme Court by any party to the proceeding within thirty days of the date of such final order, be final and binding on the public service corporation and the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, and the Commissioner of Highways.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 412.

§ 56-29. Change of course of highway to avoid crossings.

If any public service corporation desires that the course of any public road shall be changed to avoid the necessity of any crossing, or frequent crossings of the same, or for any other purpose in connection with the crossing, the change may be made in such manner, and on such terms as may be agreed on by the company desiring the change and by the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid and the Commissioner of Highways, after changes shall have been first clearly indicated on plans and specifications submitted to the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, and the Commissioner of Highways, and after the plans and specifications shall have been approved in writing both by the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, and the Commissioner of Highways.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 412.

§ 56-30. Payment of damages occasioned by crossing highway.

If any such crossing or change as is provided for in §§ 56-23 to 56-32 cause damage to any county property or public highway, or to the owners or occupants of any lands, the company exercising the privileges granted by such sections shall make proper compensation for such damage.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 413.

§ 56-31. When work of crossing highway to proceed.

Upon failure of the company desiring to make any crossing pursuant to § 56-23 to receive notice of suspension of the work on such crossing by the Commission within sixty days after submission of the plans, specifications and descriptions as required by § 56-27, or upon the approval or modification of plans, specifications and descriptions by the Commission, or, if an appeal be taken as aforesaid, upon the approval or modification by the Supreme Court of the plans, specifications and descriptions prescribed by the Commission and the payment of the proper compensation to the state or county for damages to the state or county property, or to the owner or occupant of lands, such damage to be ascertained according to the laws regulating the exercise of eminent domain, work may be commenced immediately.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 413.

§ 56-32. Limitation on crossing rights if altering, closing or obstructing highway or stream involved.

No state highway or county road or stream, or watercourse, shall be altered, closed or obstructed by any public service corporation for any of the purposes mentioned in § 56-23 until it shall have first submitted plans and specifications to the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, and to the Commissioner of Highways, of the proposed alteration, closing or obstruction, and until after the plans and specifications shall have been first approved in writing both by the board of supervisors or other governing body aforesaid, and by the Commissioner of Highways. And in any such case such public service corporation shall provide and construct an equally convenient highway or waterway in lieu of any such highway or waterway so altered, closed or obstructed.

Code 1919, § 3885; 1920, p. 413.

§ 56-33. Duty of corporation whose wires cross other works.

Every corporation, association, person, or partnership erecting or maintaining any wires over or across the works of a public service corporation shall support the same by, and shall maintain, all proper and needful structures, fixtures, and approved appliances, so as to afford the utmost protection to the employees of such public service corporation and to all persons traveling upon or using the facilities of such corporation.

Code 1919, § 3888.

§ 56-34. General Assembly may require connections between public service corporations.

The General Assembly reserves the right to provide for connecting any work of a railroad, canal, or turnpike company, or other public service corporation, with any other work of companies of the like character, at such point as may seem to it proper.

Code 1919, § 3887.

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

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