§ 136 20. Elimination or safeguarding of grade crossings and inadequate underpasses or overpasses



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§ 136 20. Elimination or safeguarding of grade crossings and inadequate underpasses or overpasses.

(a) Whenever any road or street forming a link in or a part of the State highway system, whether under construction or heretofore or hereafter constructed, shall cross or intersect any railroad at the same level or grade, or by an underpass or overpass, and in the opinion of the Secretary of Transportation such crossing is dangerous to the traveling public, or unreasonably interferes with or impedes traffic on said State highway, the Department of Transportation shall issue notice requiring the person or company operating such railroad to appear before the Secretary of Transportation, at his office in Raleigh, upon a day named, which shall not be less than 10 days or more than 20 days from the date of said notice, and show cause, if any it has, why such railroad company shall not be required to alter such crossing in such way as to remove such dangerous condition and to make such changes and improvements thereat as will safeguard and secure the safety and convenience of the traveling public thereafter. Such notice shall be served on such railroad company as is now provided by law for the service of summons on domestic corporations, and officers serving such notice shall receive the same fees as now provided by law for the service of such summons.

(b) Upon the day named, the Secretary of Transportation shall hear said matter and shall determine whether such crossing is dangerous to public safety, or unreasonably interferes with traffic thereon. If he shall determine that said crossing is, or upon the completion of such highway will be, dangerous to public safety and its elimination or safeguarding is necessary for the proper protection of the traffic on said State highway, the Secretary of Transportation shall thereupon order the construction of an adequate underpass or overpass at said crossing or he may in his discretion order said railroad company to install and maintain gates, alarm signals or other approved safety devices if and when in the opinion of said Secretary of Transportation upon the hearing as aforesaid the public safety and convenience will be secured thereby. And said order shall specify that the cost of construction of such underpass or overpass or the installation of such safety device shall be allocated between the railroad company and the Department of Transportation in the same ratio as the net benefits received by such railroad company from the project bear to the net benefits accruing to the public using the highway, and in no case shall the net benefit to any railroad company or companies be deemed to be more than ten percent (10%) of the total benefits resulting from the project. The Secretary of Transportation shall be responsible for determining the proportion of the benefits derived by the railroad company from the project, and shall fix standards for the determining of said benefits which shall be consistent with the standards adopted for similar purposes by the United States Bureau of Public Roads under the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1944.

(c) Upon the filing and issuance of the order as hereinbefore provided for requiring the construction of any underpass or overpass or the installation and maintenance of gates, alarm signals or other safety devices at any crossing upon the State highway system, it shall be the duty of the railroad company operating the railroad with which said public road or street intersects or crosses to construct such underpass or overpass or to install and maintain such safety device as may be required in said order. The work may be done and material furnished either by the railroad company or the Department of Transportation, as may be agreed upon, and the cost thereof shall be allocated and borne as set out in subsection (b) hereof. If the work is done and material furnished by the railroad company, an itemized statement of the total amount expended therefor shall, at the completion of the work, be furnished the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Transportation shall pay such amount to the railroad company as may be shown on such statement after deducting the amount for which the railroad company is responsible; and if the work is done by the Department of Transportation, an itemized statement of the total amount expended shall be furnished to the railroad company, and the railroad company shall pay to the Department of Transportation such part thereof as the railroad company may be responsible for as herein provided; such payment by the railroad company shall be under such rules and regulations and by such methods as the Department of Transportation may provide.



(d) Within 60 days after the issuance of the order for construction of an underpass or overpass or the installation of other safety devices as herein provided for, the railroad company against which such order is issued shall submit to the Department of Transportation plans for such construction or installation, and within 10 days thereafter said Department of Transportation, through its chairman of the Department of Transportation, shall notify such railroad company of its approval of said plan or of such changes and amendments thereto as to it shall seem advisable. If such plans are not submitted to the Department of Transportation by said railroad company within 60 days as aforesaid, the chairman of the Department of Transportation shall have plans prepared and submit them to the railroad company. The railroad company shall within 10 days notify the chairman of the Department of Transportation of its approval of the said plans or shall have the right within such 10 days to suggest such changes and amendments in the plans so submitted by the chairman of the Department of Transportation as to it shall seem advisable. The plans so prepared and finally approved by the chairman of the Department of Transportation shall have the same force and effect, and said railroad company shall be charged with like liability, and said underpass or overpass shall be constructed or such safety device installed in accordance therewith, as if said plans had been originally prepared and submitted by said railroad company. If said railroad company shall fail or neglect to begin or complete the construction of said underpass or overpass, or the installation of such safety device, as required by the order of the Secretary of Transportation, said Secretary of Transportation is authorized and directed to prepare the necessary plans therefor, which plans shall have the same force and effect, and shall fix said railroad company with like liability, as if said plans had been originally prepared and submitted by said railroad company, and the Department of Transportation shall proceed to construct said underpass or overpass or install such safety device in accordance therewith. An accurate account of the cost of said construction or installation shall be kept by the Department of Transportation and upon the completion of such work a statement of that portion thereof chargeable to such railroad company as set out in the order of the Department of Transportation shall be rendered said railroad company. Upon the failure or refusal of said company to pay the bill so rendered, the Department of Transportation shall recover the amount thereof by suit therefor against said company in the Superior Court of Wake County: Provided, that the payment by such railroad company of said proportionate part may be made under such rules and regulations and by such methods as the Department of Transportation may provide. If the Department of Transportation shall undertake to do the work, it shall not obstruct or impair the operation of the railroad and shall keep the roadbed and track safe for the operation of trains at every stage of work. If said railroad company shall construct such underpass or overpass or shall install such safety devices in accordance with the order of the Secretary of Transportation, the proportionate share of the cost thereof as set out in subsection (b) hereof shall upon the completion of said work be paid to the railroad company by the Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation may inspect and check the expenditures for such construction or installation so made by the railroad company and an accurate account of the cost thereof shall upon the completion of said work be submitted to the Department of Transportation by the railroad company. If the Department of Transportation shall neglect or refuse to pay that portion of the cost of said construction or installation chargeable to it, the railroad company shall recover the amount thereof by suit therefor against the Department of Transportation in the Superior Court of Wake County.

(e) If any railroad company so ordered by the Secretary of Transportation to construct an underpass or overpass or to install safety devices at grade crossings as hereinbefore provided for shall fail or refuse to comply with the order of the Secretary of Transportation requiring such construction or installation, said railroad company shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and shall only be fined not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100.00) in the discretion of the court for each day such failure or refusal shall continue, each said day to constitute a separate offense.

(f) The jurisdiction over and control of said grade crossings and safety devices upon the State highway system herein given the Department of Transportation shall be exclusive.

(g) From any order or decision so made by the Secretary of Transportation the railroad company may appeal to the superior court of the county wherein is located the crossing affected by said order. Such appeal shall not defer or delay the construction of such underpass or overpass or the installation of such safety device as required by the order of the Secretary of Transportation, but the railroad company shall proceed to comply with such order in accordance with his terms. The action of the railroad company in complying with and carrying out such order pending said appeal shall not prejudice or affect the right or remedies of such railroad company on such appeal. Upon such appeal the court shall determine only whether the order of the Secretary of Transportation for such construction or installation is unreasonable and unnecessary for the protection of the traveling public and the apportionment of the cost to the extent hereinafter provided in this subsection, and if upon the hearing of said appeal it shall be determined that said order was unnecessary for the protection of the traveling public, the Department of Transportation shall bear the total cost of the construction of such underpass or overpass or the installation of such safety device. In the event the decision on appeal should be that the construction or installation was necessary but the cost or apportionment thereof unreasonable, then the railroad company shall bear its proportion as provided in this section of such cost as may be determined on appeal to have been reasonable to meet the necessity of the case. Upon said appeal from an order of the Secretary of Transportation, the burden of proof shall be upon the railroad company, and if it shall not be found and determined upon said appeal that said order was unreasonable or unnecessary for the protection of the traveling public at said crossing, then such railroad company shall bear its proportion of the cost of such construction or installation in accordance with this section.



(h) The Department of Transportation shall pay the cost of maintenance of all overpasses and the railroad company shall pay the cost of maintenance of all underpasses constructed in accordance with this section. The cost of maintenance of safety devices at all intersections of any railroad company and any street or road forming a link in or a part of the State highway system which have been constructed prior to July 1, 1959, or which shall be constructed thereafter shall be borne fifty percent (50%) by the railroad company and fifty percent (50%) by the Department of Transportation. The maintenance of said overpasses and underpasses shall be performed by the railroad company or the Department of Transportation as may be agreed upon and reimbursement for the cost thereof, in accordance with this section, shall be made annually. The maintenance of such safety devices shall be performed by the railroad company and reimbursement for the cost thereof, in accordance with this section, shall be made annually by the Department of Transportation. (1921, c. 2, s. 19; 1923, c. 160, s. 5; C.S., s. 3846(y); 1925, c. 277; 1929, c. 74; 1933, c. 172, s. 17; 1957, c. 65, s. 11; 1959, c. 1216; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; 1977, c. 464, ss. 7.1, 11, 15; 1993, c. 539, s. 979; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 14, s. 60, c. 24, s. 14(c).)

G.S. 136-20 Page


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