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.