Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 13. Railroad Corporations
11/27/2022

Article 3. Extensions; Connections; Crossing Other Railroads, Roads, Etc.

§ 56-355. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1956, c. 435.

§ 56-355.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2015, c. 256, cl. 9.

§ 56-355.2. Definitions.

"Public road authority" as used in this chapter means any appropriate governing body which has responsibility for the construction and maintenance of public highways.

"Overpass" as used in this chapter means a grade separation structure in which the public highway passes above and across the railroad.

"Underpass" as used in this chapter means the railroad passes above and across the public highway.

"Highway" as used in this chapter means any public highway, road, or street maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation or for which maintenance payments are made pursuant to §§ 33.2-319 and 33.2-366.

1996, cc. 114, 157.

§ 56-356. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1956, c. 435.

§ 56-359. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1996, cc. 114 and 157.

§ 56-362. Right of railroad to cross watercourse, intervening railroad, etc.

Any railroad corporation created or doing business under the laws of this Commonwealth, which shall have fully located the route of its railway, may, in the construction of such railway on such route, cross any canal, navigable stream, or watercourse between its termini, but in such manner as not unreasonably to impede the navigation and use thereof; and may also cross any railway or railroad intervening, in the manner and upon the terms prescribed by §§ 56-17 to 56-32, and 56-363.

Code 1919, § 3999; 1996, cc. 114, 157.

§ 56-363. Crossing of a railroad or public highway by another railroad; crossing of a railroad by a public highway.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Commonwealth that all crossings of one railroad by another, or a public highway by a railroad, or a railroad by a public highway, shall, wherever reasonably practicable, pass above or below the existing facility. And every railroad hereafter constructed across another railroad or across a public highway, and every public highway hereafter constructed across a railroad, shall, wherever it is reasonably practicable, and does not involve an unreasonable expense, all the circumstances of the case considered, pass above or beneath the existing structure at a sufficient elevation or depression, as the case may be, with easy grades, so as to admit of safe speedy travel over each.

If constructing a crossing either above or below the existing structure is not practical and involves an unreasonable expense, the responsible governing body constructing a new public crossing at grade, in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, shall take precautions to provide for the safe movement of traffic. It is the policy of the Commonwealth to limit the number of new public at grade crossings and to eliminate unnecessary crossings.

Code 1919, § 3972; 1996, cc. 114, 157.

§ 56-364. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1996, cc. 114 and 157.

§ 56-365.1. Closing and or consolidation of grade crossings.

Whenever the public safety requires that an existing crossing of a railroad by a public highway at grade be eliminated or that multiple grade crossings be consolidated, either the public road authority or the affected railroad may petition the Commonwealth Transportation Board to provide funding for and to require the elimination of the existing grade crossing as a condition of participating in the funding. Upon a finding that the public safety requires elimination of the existing grade crossing, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board funds are available for the improvement, the Commonwealth Transportation Board may order the elimination of the crossing or the consolidation of multiple grade crossings. The affected railroad may contribute to the cost of eliminating or consolidating grade crossings. The Commonwealth may apply for, receive, and contribute any available federal or other funds for the elimination or consolidation of grade crossings.

1996, cc. 114, 157.

§ 56-366. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1952, c. 398.

§ 56-366.1. Proceedings to avoid or eliminate grade crossings by grade separation or to widen, strengthen, remodel, relocate or replace existing crossing structures on public highways.

Whenever a road in the primary or secondary state highway system or a public highway maintained by a locality (i) crosses a railroad, (ii) is projected across a railroad, or (iii) is to be so changed as to cross a railroad, or an existing overpass or underpass crossing of any such road and a railroad is in need of widening, strengthening, remodeling, relocating or replacing, and funds are (or are to be) allocated by the Commonwealth Transportation Board or public road authority for payment of the locality's or state's portion of the cost of constructing such an overpass or underpass structure or for widening, strengthening, remodeling, relocating or replacing such an existing structure, the Commissioner of Highways or representative of the public road authority may agree with the railroad company or companies involved, on such terms and conditions as he shall deem in the best interests of the Commonwealth or locality regarding the plans and specifications, the method and manner of construction and the division of costs and maintenance responsibility of any such separation of grade structure. In case of a separation of grade by structure at a new, or an existing, grade crossing, the project, except in special cases and under special circumstances to be mutually agreed upon by the Commissioner of Highways, the public road authority, and the railroad company or companies involved, shall be deemed to start at points on each side of the tracks of the railroad or railroads where the grade, under the proposed plans and specifications, leaves the ground line to go over or under, as the case may be, the tracks of the railroad or railroads.

In the event the Commissioner of Highways, the public road authority, and the railroad company or companies involved are unable to agree on (i) the necessity for the construction of such underpass or overpass structure or for the widening, strengthening, remodeling, relocating or replacing of any existing overpass or underpass structure, (ii) the plans and specifications for and method or manner of construction thereof, or (iii) the portion of the work, if any, to be done and the share of the cost of such project, if any, to be borne by each of the railroad company or companies involved, the Commissioner of Highways or the public road authority shall petition the State Corporation Commission setting forth the plans and specifications for and the method and manner of construction of such project and the facts which in his opinion justify the elimination of the crossing, the erection of a new separation of grade structure or the widening, strengthening, remodeling, relocating or replacing of an existing structure and the maintenance responsibility. Copies of the petition and the plans and specifications shall forthwith be served by the State Corporation Commission on the railroad company or companies involved. Within twenty days after service on it of such petition and plans and specifications, the railroad company or companies shall file an answer with the State Corporation Commission setting out its objections to the proposed project and the Commission shall hear and determine the matter as other matters are heard and determined by that body. The Commission shall consider all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case and shall determine (a) whether public necessity and convenience justifies or requires the construction of such new separation of grade structure or whether an existing structure is so dangerous to or insufficient to take care of traffic on the highway as to require the widening, strengthening, remodeling, relocating or replacing proposed, (b) whether the plans and specifications or method and manner of construction are proper and appropriate, and (c) what portion of the work, if any, to be done and what share of the cost of such project, if any, to be borne by each of the railroad company or companies involved (excluding the cost of right-of-way) is fair and reasonable, having regard to the benefits, if any, accruing to such railroad or railroads from the elimination of such grade crossing or the widening, strengthening, remodeling, relocating or replacing any existing overpass or underpass structure, and either dismiss the proceeding as against the railroad company or companies involved or enter an order deciding and disposing of all of the matters hereinbefore submitted to its jurisdiction.

Grade crossings shall be closed when replaced by a new public highway. However, the Commonwealth Transportation Board or the public road authority may authorize the continued use of the crossing for a period of two years following the construction of the new highway to familiarize the public with the new route.

1952, c. 398; 1996, cc. 114, 157; 2015, c. 256.

§ 56-366.2. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1996, cc. 114 and 157.

§ 56-366.3. Proceedings to alter, rebuild or replace existing grade separation structure destroyed or rendered unusable.

In the event an existing overpass or crossing over a railroad is destroyed or rendered unusable or otherwise becomes necessary to alter, rebuild, or replace, which overpass or crossing is maintained by a railroad company, such company shall immediately notify the Commissioner of Highways, or the public road authority of its intent to formulate plans for such alteration, rebuilding, or replacement. The Commissioner or the public road authority shall, as soon as practicable after receipt of such notice, determine if, in consideration of the needs of the state systems of highways, the work to be done on such existing separation structure should encompass any upgrading of such overpass. Upon reaching such decision, the Commissioner or the public road authority shall forthwith notify the company thereof.

If the Commissioner or representative of the public road authority determines that upgrading is not necessary, the company, within six months of notice thereof, shall, in consultation with the Commissioner or representative of the public road authority, formulate and submit plans to the Commissioner or representative of the public road authority for the necessary work. As soon as the plans are submitted the Commissioner or representative of the public road authority shall review the same and after determining the plans are satisfactory, shall notify the railroad to begin construction by a specified date and to complete such construction within a specified time limit after considering public safety, convenience and necessity and the amount, nature and extent of the planned construction. All costs of necessary work, including formulation of plans, where upgrading is not necessary, shall be borne by the company. In the event there is a disagreement as to the design, method of construction and date of completion, such dispute shall be resolved under the procedural provisions of § 56-366.1.

If the Commissioner or public road authority determines that upgrading is necessary or desirable, the same procedure for coordination with the company shall apply except that the parties may agree that the Commissioner or representative of the public road authority formulate, and execute plans for such work, in consultation with such company. Disputes as to matters in this regard, including allocation of cost, shall also be resolved by petition to the State Corporation Commission and any new overpass shall be maintained in accordance with § 56-368.1.

When it is necessary only to repair any overpass, maintained by such railroad, the railroad shall perform all work and bear all costs in connection therewith.

All duties under this section shall be performed as expeditiously as possible. Nothing herein shall be construed in any way to limit the authority of the Commissioner or representative of the public road authority over public highways and overpasses.

1977, c. 443; 1996, cc. 114, 157.

§ 56-367. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1952, c. 398.

§ 56-368.1. Subsequent maintenance of underpasses and overpasses.

After the work specified in §§ 56-366.1 and 56-366.3 regarding underpasses and overpasses has been done, the maintenance, including drainage, of any underpass hereafter so constructed, except the pavement thereof, shall be the sole responsibility of the railroad company and the maintenance of any overpass hereafter so constructed shall be the sole responsibility of the Department of Transportation or the public road authority; provided, that the railroad company shall not be responsible for any damage to an underpass caused by operations on the highway, and the Department of Transportation or the public road authority shall not be responsible for any damage to an overpass caused by the operations of the railroad company; and further provided, that the provisions herein as to maintenance of overpasses and underpasses shall also be construed as applicable in the case of those structures previously built on the primary system under agreement between the railroad company and the Department of Transportation or the public road authority; and further provided that the provisions herein as to maintenance by a railroad company shall not be applicable in the case of any underpass hereafter constructed without eliminating a crossing of a railroad and a highway grade, but the maintenance of such structures, including highway drainage and pavement therefor, shall be the sole responsibility of the Department of Transportation or the public road authority.

1924, p. 147; 1926, p. 399; 1930, p. 75; 1934, p. 265; Michie Code 1942, § 3974a; 1948, p. 1003; 1962, c. 538; 1996, cc. 114, 157.

§ 56-369. Elimination of public grade crossings by change of alignment of public highways or construction of replacement public highways.

Whenever the Commissioner of Highways or the appropriate public road authority in improving the alignment of public highways proposes to change the alignment of the highway or construct a replacement public highway and thereby permanently eliminate as a public crossing one or more crossings of a railroad at grade, he may agree with the railroad company involved, on such terms and conditions as he or the representative of the public road authority shall deem in the best interest of the Commonwealth or locality regarding the plans and specifications, the method and manner of construction and the division of costs of so changing the alignment of the highway. Grade crossings shall be closed when replaced by a new public highway. However, the Commonwealth Transportation Board or the public road authority may authorize the continued use of the crossing for a period of two years following the construction of the new public highway to familiarize the public with the new route.

In the event the Commissioner of Highways or the public road authority and the railroad company are unable to agree (i) on the necessity for such change in the alignment of the highway, or (ii) the plans and specifications for the method and manner of construction thereof, or (iii) the portion of the work, if any, to be done and the share of the cost of such project, if any, to be borne by the railroad company involved, the Commissioner of Highways or the public road authority shall petition the State Corporation Commission setting forth the plans and specifications for the method and manner of changing the alignment of the public highway and the facts which, in his opinion, justify the proposed elimination as a public crossing of one or more crossings of the railroad at grade. Copies of the petition and the plans and specifications shall forthwith be served by the State Corporation Commission on the railroad company involved. Within twenty days after service on it of such petition and plans and specifications, the railroad company involved shall file an answer with the State Corporation Commission setting out its objections to the proposed project and the Commission shall hear and determine the matter as other matters are heard and determined by that body. The Commission shall consider all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case and shall determine (a) whether public necessity and convenience justifies or requires the proposed change in the alignment of the highway which shall not, in respect to any particular project within the meaning of this section, exceed five miles in length, (b) whether the plans and specifications or method and manner of construction are proper and appropriate, and (c) what portion of the work, if any, to be done and what share of the cost of such project, if any, to be borne by the railroad company involved is fair and reasonable, having regard to the benefits, if any, accruing to such railroad from the elimination of such grade crossing or crossings, and either dismiss the proceeding as against the railroad company involved or enter an order deciding and disposing of all of the matters hereinbefore submitted to its jurisdiction, provided, however, that the share of the cost of such project which the Commission may find proper to be borne by the railroad under the provisions of this section, shall not exceed what the Commission might otherwise decide would be the proportion of the cost of constructing an overpass or underpass structure or structures at the point or points where such public grade crossing or crossings are to be eliminated.

1930, p. 891; Michie Code 1942, § 3974b; 1952, c. 399; 1996, cc. 114, 157.