2007 Regular Session
To: Transportation; Appropriations
By: Representative Davis, Fleming
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 57-43-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PRESCRIBE CERTAIN ADDITIONAL PURPOSES FOR WHICH MONIES IN THE MISSISSIPPI HIGHWAY-RAILROAD GRADE CROSSING SAFETY ACCOUNT WITHIN THE RAILROAD REVITALIZATION FUND MAY BE EXPENDED; TO AMEND SECTION 65-1-175, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT FOR A PUBLIC HEARING BY THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BEFORE ABOLISHMENT OF A ROADWAY/RAILWAY CROSSING WHEN THE PUBLIC ROADWAY AUTHORITY VACATES THE ROADWAY; TO AMEND SECTIONS 97-25-4, 97-25-5 AND 97-25-35, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE PENALTIES AND REQUIRE RESTITUTION FOR CERTAIN CRIMES RELATING TO RAILROAD PROPERTY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 57-43-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
57-43-15. (1) There is established within the Railroad Revitalization Fund a new account to be entitled the Mississippi Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Account. The account shall be administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and shall consist of (a) such monies as are transferred to it on July 1, 2001, from the Mississippi Grade Crossing Closure Account; and (b) thirty-five percent (35%) of collections from the locomotive fuel tax imposed under Section 27-59-307 for the previous year. Unexpended amounts remaining in the account at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund; and any interest earned on amounts in the account shall be deposited to the credit of the account.
(2) The Mississippi Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the railroads operating in Mississippi, shall promulgate rules to ensure equitable allocation of the funds described in subsection (1) of this section to projects throughout the state, and shall consider the proportionate number of main line track miles of each railroad and the number of public roadway/railroad grade crossings on each railroad's main line. Expenditure of monies from the Mississippi Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Account shall be limited to the following purposes:
(a) Financial aid for closure of public roadway/railroad grade crossings;
(b) Realignment of construction costs of roadways being rerouted to facilitate a closure of a public roadway/railroad grade crossing;
(c) Monies to match federal or other funds for a grade separation eliminating an at-grade crossing of a public roadway and railroad; * * *
(d) Installation, maintenance or upgrade of highway-railroad grade crossing signals, at the discretion of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, based upon the Federal Railroad Administration ranking of all Mississippi highway-railroad grade crossings. Not less than ten percent (10%) of the monies necessary to defray the costs of such installations must be federal funds;
(e) Separation of grades of highway/railroad crossings;
(f) Improvement of any grade crossing including the necessary roadway approaches thereto of any railroad across a public road highway;
(g) Construction, reconstruction, repair or replacement of the grade crossing surface structure; and
(h) Installation of an automatic advance warning signal alerting a motorist that a grade crossing is ahead.
(3) The Mississippi Department of Transportation shall consider all requests from the state's diagnostic review of public roadway/railroad grade crossings and from individual railroads for expenditure of funds for the purposes described in subsection (2) of this section, and shall establish uniform criteria and guidelines relating to such crossings and the expenditure of funds.
SECTION 2. Section 65-1-175, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
65-1-175. (1) The jurisdiction of the Mississippi Department of Transportation shall be exclusive with respect to public roadway/railroad crossings either at grade or otherwise except to the extent that its jurisdiction is preempted by valid federal statute, regulation or order.
(2) The Mississippi Department of Transportation shall have power, upon its own motion or upon complaint filed, after having made proper investigation, and after notice and hearing, if requested, to abolish any public roadway/railroad crossing heretofore or hereafter established, to vacate and close that part of the roadway on such crossing abolished, and to erect barricades across the roadway in such a manner as to prevent the use of such crossing as a roadway, when, in the opinion of the department, the public necessity served by the crossing in question is not such as to justify the further retention thereof. In any event, if a roadway/railway crossing is the subject of closure proceedings, both the local governmental entity and the rail carrier shall be given formal written notice by the department before any hearing is conducted by the department. However, a public hearing by the department to abolish a crossing shall not be required when the public roadway authority in interest vacates the roadway. In such instances, the rail carrier, following notification to the department and roadway authority, shall remove any grade crossing warning devices and the grade crossing surface.
(3) The Mississippi Department of Transportation shall have power, upon its own motion, or upon complaint, and after having made proper investigation and after notice and hearing, if requested, to require the installation of adequate and appropriate luminous reflective warning signs, luminous flashing signals, crossing gates illuminated at night, or other warning devices in order to promote the health and safety of the public. Luminous flashing signals or crossing gate devices heretofore installed at grade crossings and those installations hereafter approved by the department shall be deemed adequate and appropriate. The department shall have authority to determine the number, type and location of such signs, signals, gates or other protective devices which shall conform as near as may be with generally recognized national standards, and the department shall have authority to prescribe the division of the cost of the installation and subsequent maintenance of such signs, signals, gates or other warning devices between the rail carrier or carriers, the public highway authority in interest and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. In no event shall any costs assessed against either the public highway authority in interest or the rail carrier exceed ten percent (10%) of the costs of the materials and installation.
(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as amending, repealing or modifying any duty or responsibility that railroads had, if any, immediately before the effective date of this act with regard to any applicable state or federal laws, statutes, regulations or orders pertaining to the maintenance of signals, signs and warning devices at roadway/railroad crossings.
SECTION 3. Section 97-25-4, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-25-4. (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) of this section, it shall be unlawful for any person to do any of the following acts without first having obtained written permission from the owner or operator of the railroad line:
(a) To attempt to board or disembark from a moving freight train;
(b) To damage or deface, or attempt to damage or deface, railroad track, signals, switches, buildings, structures, bridges, rights-of-way, wire lines, motive power, rolling stock or other property; or
(c) To dump, or cause to be dumped, upon railroad right-of-way any paper, ashes, sweepings, household wastes, glass, metal, tires, mattresses, furniture, dangerous substances or any other refuse or substance of any kind.
(2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to:
(a) Railroad employees engaged in the performance of their duties; or
(b) Representatives of utilities or other agencies with easements across or along the railroad in the performance of their duties.
(3) Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not more than thirty (30) days or by a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) but not more than Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00), or both, and may be required to pay any clean-up costs. In addition, any person who is convicted for a violation of subsection (1)(b) or subsection (1)(c) of this section shall be ordered by the court to make restitution to the owners or operators of the railroad line or property in an amount determined by the court to compensate for all damages caused by such person and all costs related to cleanup necessitated as a result of such person's unlawful conduct.
(4) The penalties provided for in this section shall be in addition to any other penalties provided by law for the same or similar acts.
(5) As used in this section the term "right-of-way" means track, roadbed and adjacent property which would be readily recognizable to a reasonable person as railroad property.
SECTION 4. Section 97-25-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-25-5. If any person shall willfully obliterate, injure or destroy any railroad-gate, warning-signals, cattle-gap or any board or sign erected or maintained by a railroad company in pursuance of law, he shall be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or be imprisoned in the county jail not exceeding three (3) months, or both. In addition, any person who is convicted for a violation of this section shall be ordered by the court to make restitution to the owners or operators of the railroad line or property in an amount determined by the court to compensate for all damages caused by such person and all costs related to cleanup necessitated as a result of such person's unlawful conduct.
SECTION 5. Section 97-25-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-25-35. If any person shall maliciously remove, take, steal, change or in any manner interfere with any railroad transmission line, signaling device, microwave tower or any of the parts or attachments belonging to any communication or signaling device owned, leased or used by any railroad or transportation company, he shall, on conviction, be fined not more than Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000.00), or shall be imprisoned not more than five (5) years, or both. In addition, any person who is convicted for a violation of this section shall be ordered by the court to make restitution to the owners or operators of the railroad line or property in an amount determined by the court to compensate for all damages caused by such person and all costs related to cleanup necessitated as a result of such person's unlawful conduct.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.