Railroads shall cooperate with the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation in furnishing information and technical assistance to enable the Commonwealth to develop plans and project priorities for the elimination of hazardous conditions at any crossing of a public highway which crosses at grade including, but not limited to, grade crossing elimination, reconstruction of existing grade crossings, and grade crossing improvements. The Commonwealth shall provide each locality a listing of grade crossing safety needs for its consideration. Information collected and analyses undertaken by the designated state agencies are subject to 23 U.S.C. § 409. A railroad shall not unilaterally select or determine the type of grade crossing warning system to be installed at any crossing of a public highway and railroad at grade. The railroad shall only install or upgrade a grade crossing warning system at any crossing of a public highway and railroad at grade pursuant to an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation or representative of the appropriate public road authority authorized to enter into such agreements. A railroad is not required but is permitted to upgrade, at its own expense, components of any public highway at grade warning system when such upgrade is incidental to a railroad improvement project relating to track, structures or train control systems.When required by the Commissioner of Highways or representative of the appropriate public road authority, every railroad company shall cause a grade crossing warning device including flashing lights approved by the Department of Transportation at such heights as to be easily seen by travelers, and not obstructing travel, to be placed, and maintained at each public highway at or near each place where it is crossed by the railroad at the same level. Such warning device shall be automatically activated by the approaching train so as to be clearly discernible to travelers approaching the railroad crossing from each direction at a distance of two-hundred feet. Such warning devices shall be erected at the initiative of the appropriate public road authority only when required by ordinance or resolution adopted by the Commissioner or the appropriate public road authority thereof stating that such political subdivision will pay the full initial installation cost of such warning devices and that maintenance costs will be fixed as provided in § 56-406.2. A certified copy of such ordinance or resolution shall be delivered to such railroad company, and such railroad company shall forthwith install such warning devices at the full initial cost of such public road authority. The cost of such installation and maintenance of such warning devices may be shared by agreement between such railroad company and the Commissioner of Highways or the appropriate public road authority, when initiating such installation. The railroad shall be responsible for the continuing maintenance of the warning devices.In the event that such Commissioner or representative of the appropriate public road authority and the railroad company or companies involved are unable to agree on (i) the necessity for such grade crossing warning device, or (ii) the plans and specifications for and the method and manner of construction or operation thereof, or (iii) the share of the cost of construction, if any, to be borne by the railroad company or companies involved, then the Commissioner of Highways or representative of the appropriate public road authority, as the case may be, shall petition the State Corporation Commission setting forth the grade crossing warning devices desired and the plans and specifications for and the method and manner of construction and operation of the devices desired and the facts which, in the opinion of the petitioner, justify the requiring of the same. Copies of the petition and plans and specifications shall be forthwith 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, each such railroad company 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 justifies or requires the proposed warning devices, (b) whether the plans and specifications or the method and manner of construction and operation be proper and appropriate, and (c) what share of the cost of the project, if any, to be borne by any railroad company involved is fair and reasonable, having regard to the benefits, if any, accruing to such railroad company from providing such grade crossing warning devices, and either dismiss the proceeding as against such railroad company or enter an order deciding and disposing of all of the matters hereinbefore submitted to its jurisdiction.
1952, c. 400; 1954, c. 122; 1962, c. 527; 1996, cc. 114, 157.