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Bill Number: 93 Ratification Number: 330 Act Number 319 Introducing Body: Senate Subject: Railroad safety requirements
(A319, R330, S93)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 58-17-1450, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO EXAMINATION OF RAILROAD CROSSINGS BY COUNTY SUPERVISORS, SO AS TO ASSIGN THE RESPONSIBILITY TO EXAMINE CROSSINGS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, COUNTIES, AND MUNICIPALITIES, TO REQUIRE REPORTS OF ROADS FOR WHICH THE COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO BE MADE TO THE DEPARTMENT AND OF HAZARDS TO BE MADE TO HIGHWAY ENGINEERS WHO SHALL DIRECT THE RAILROAD TO REMOVE THE HAZARD, TO REQUIRE THE RAILROAD TO REMOVE HAZARDS AND ERECT CROSSBUCKS WITHIN RIGHTS-OF-WAY, TO REQUIRE COUNTIES, MUNICIPALITIES, AND PRIVATE PERSONS TO REMOVE HAZARDS OUTSIDE RIGHTS-OF-WAY AND TO REQUIRE ANNUAL REPORTS OF INSPECTIONS BY COUNTIES, MUNICIPALITIES, AND THE DEPARTMENT, TO PROVIDE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SAFETY-RELATED EXPENSES, AND TO PROVIDE CIVIL PENALTIES FOR NONCOMPLIANCE AND TO REPEAL SECTIONS 58-17-1400, 58-17-1460, 58-17-1470, 58-17-1480, 58-17-1490, AND 58-17-1500 RELATING TO DUTIES OF COUNTY SUPERVISORS RELATIVE TO RAILROAD SAFETY.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Railroad safety requirements
SECTION 1. Section 58-17-1450 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 58-17-1450. All railroad crossings on public highways must be inspected for conditions which unsafely obstruct motorists' view of approaching trains, for the presence of crossbucks prescribed by Section 58-17-1390, and for the presence of stop signs authorized by law to be placed at railroad crossings. The Department of Highways and Public Transportation hereinafter referred to as the Department, is responsible for inspecting railroad crossings on state maintained highways, the governing body of each county is responsible for inspecting railroad crossings on county maintained roads, and the governing body of each municipality is responsible for inspecting railroad crossings on road and street rights-of-way maintained by municipalities. The Department shall inform counties and municipalities of the railroad crossings they are responsible for inspecting. By January 1, 1989, the governing body of each county and municipality must notify the Department of the office and public official to whom the governing body has assigned responsibility for performing the inspections. If the person inspecting a railroad crossing finds that the required crossbucks are not in place, properly in place or maintained, or finds that motorists' view of approaching trains is unsafely obstructed by vegetation, growth, or objects not permanently affixed to realty which are within the right-of-way of the railway, the person inspecting the crossing must immediately notify the State Highway Engineer of the hazard. The notice must identify the crossing and describe the hazard. The inspector in the notice shall also inform the State Highway Engineer whether or not there is a stop sign at the crossing and, if not, whether or not in his opinion one should be added. Upon receipt of notice from the person inspecting the crossing, the Department must give written notice of the hazard immediately by certified mail to any officer or registered agent of the railroad within the State. Notice from the Department shall direct the railroad to cut or remove the vegetation, growth, and objects not permanently affixed to realty that are obstructing motorists' view or to erect, maintain, or properly situate crossbucks. The Department must also notify the governing body of any county or municipality which maintains the highways or roadways at the crossing that the inspector stated in his opinion that a stop sign should be added at the crossing.
Removal and elimination of obstructions must be made by the responsible railroad within thirty days of receipt of notification from the Department. Erection of crossbucks and measures to properly place and maintain crossbucks must be performed by the responsible railroad within ten days of receipt of notification from the Department. Failure of the railroad company to remove or eliminate the obstruction within the railroad's right-of-way and to erect or properly place and maintain crossbucks within the specified time period subjects the railroad company to a civil penalty of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars. The railroad company is subject to an additional civil penalty of one hundred dollars a day for each day obstructions remain after the specified period and for each day crossbucks are not erected or properly placed and maintained after the specified period.
The person initially inspecting the railroad crossing is responsible for inspecting the crossing at appropriate intervals after notice to the railroad of the hazard to determine if obstructions have been eliminated and crossbucks properly placed and serviced within the period allowed before civil penalties may be assessed.
If the person inspecting the railroad crossing finds that motorists' view of approaching trains is obstructed by vegetation, growth, or objects not permanently affixed to realty that lie outside the right-of-way of the railroad but within right-of-way of highways and roads maintained by the State, county, or municipality, the person inspecting the railroad crossing must immediately give written notice of the hazard to the appropriate department of the State, county, or municipality, upon whose right-of-way the obstruction exists. If the obstruction is on the right-of-way maintained by a county or municipality, the person inspecting the crossing must also give immediate written notice of the hazard to the State Highway Engineer.
The Department, counties, and municipalities have thirty days from issuance of the written notice by the person inspecting the crossing to eliminate the obstructions within their respective rights-of-way.
The person initially inspecting the railroad crossing is responsible for inspecting the crossing after notice of the hazard has been given and reporting to the Department the date upon which obstructions are eliminated. If counties or municipalities do not eliminate the obstructions within thirty days of receipt of notification, the Department must remove or eliminate the obstructions. Counties and municipalities must reimburse the Department of Highways and Public Transportation for the Department's cost in eliminating the obstructions.
If the person inspecting the railroad crossing finds that motorists' view of approaching trains is obstructed by vegetation, growth, or objects not permanently affixed to realty that lie on private property outside the right-of-way of the railroad and outside the highway or road right-of-way of the State, county, or municipality, he must immediately give written notice of the hazard to the owner of the property and to the appropriate agency of the State, county, or municipality which maintains that highway or roadway. The owner of the property has thirty days after receipt of the notice to eliminate the obstructions and the inspector shall reinspect the crossing after this thirty-day period has expired to determine if the obstructions have been eliminated.
By January first of each year, counties and municipalities must report all railroad crossings that were inspected during the preceding year and at which no obstructions were found to the Department. The Department must make an annual report of inspections conducted during the preceding year. The annual report must be provided to the Senate Transportation Committee and the Education and Public Works Committee of the House of Representatives."
SECTION 2. Sections 58-17-1400, 58-17-1460, 58-17-1470, 58-17-1480, 58-17-1490, and 58-17-1500 of the 1976 Code are repealed.
Effect on prior liability
SECTION 3. Nothing contained in this act shall be construed to increase, diminish, or otherwise affect liability with respect to provisions of law in force and effect pertaining to railroad crossings in this State prior to the enactment of this act.
SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.