At every crossing, now existing or hereafter established, of a public road by a railroad or of a railroad by a public highway at grade, it shall be the duty of the railroad company to keep such crossing in good repair to the full width of the public highway, and to maintain such crossing in a smooth condition so as to admit of reasonable and safe travel over the same, and it shall also be the duty of the railroad company to maintain and keep in good repair that portion of the highway located between points two feet on either side of the extreme rails. A railroad may request that a public highway be closed for grade crossing maintenance activities, and the representative of the Commissioner of Highways or the representative of the appropriate public road authority may approve such closing where a reasonable detour is available. Any railroad company violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $ 10 nor more than $ 500.The Commissioner of Highways or the representative of the public road authority, whenever he or it shall ascertain that any such crossing is not being properly maintained, shall notify the railroad company involved in writing to repair the crossing forthwith; the railroad company upon receipt of notice may request a conference on the condition of the crossing and the need, if any, for the repair of such crossing and such conference shall be held within thirty days after receipt of the Commissioner’s or the public road authority’s notice. After the conference if the Commissioner or the public road authority is of the opinion that such repairs are required and the railroad is not willing to proceed promptly with such repairs, he or the public road authority may repair the same or cause it to be repaired and recover from the railroad company the actual cost of such work including any administration and engineering cost.If no conference is requested by the railroad company within the thirty-day period, the Commissioner or the public road authority with advance notice may repair the crossing or cause it to be repaired and recover from the railroad company the actual cost of such work including any administration and engineering cost.In any action under this section to recover the cost of the repair of any such crossing, the need for, and reasonableness of, the repairs may be put in issue.Nothing herein shall be construed as placing a duty on the railroad company to construct or reconstruct any such crossing in the event any such crossing is relocated or the highway approaches thereto are widened or reconstructed.
Code 1919, § 3973; 1952, c. 99; 1960, c. 544; 1968, c. 226; 1978, c. 214; 1996, cc. 114, 157.