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SENATE PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT 2007-2008

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H.889

 

An act relating to the state's transportation program

The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM; ADVANCEMENTS,    

             CANCELLATIONS, AND DELAYS

(a)  The state’s proposed fiscal year 2009 transportation program appended to the agency of transportation’s proposed fiscal year 2009 budget, as amended by this act, is adopted to the extent federal, state, and local funds are available. 

(b)  As used in this act, unless otherwise indicated, the term “agency” means the agency of transportation, and the term “secretary” means the secretary of transportation.  As used in this act, the table heading “As Proposed” means the transportation program referenced in subsection (a) of this section; the table heading “As Amended” means the amendments as made by this act; the table heading “Change” means the difference obtained by subtracting the “As Proposed” figure from the “As Amended” figure; and the term “change” or “changes” in the text refers to the project- and program-specific amendments, the aggregate sum of which equals the net “Change” in the applicable table heading.


* * * State Bridges * * *

Sec. 2.  PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT – STATE BRIDGES

The following modifications are made to the program development – state bridges program:

(1)  Funding of the state bridge development and evaluation program is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                       1,049,648                                0           -1,049,648

ROW                     256,419                                0              -256,419

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    1,306,067                                0           -1,306,067

Sources of funds

State                       263,993                                0              -263,993

Federal                1,042,074                                0           -1,042,074

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    1,306,067                                0           -1,306,067

(2)  Funding is added as follows to advance state bridge projects not scheduled for construction in fiscal year 2009.  The authorized funds shall be expended on projects according to their priority ranking.  To the extent the agency determines that the funds would be more efficiently spent advancing a lower ranking project due to permitting, right-of-way, or other practical constraints that impede the advancement of a higher ranking project, the agency shall substantiate and report its determination to the joint transportation oversight committee at its July 2008 meeting.

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE, ROW or other             0                  1,306,067             1,306,067

Total                                  0                  1,306,067             1,306,067

Sources of funds

State                                  0                     263,993                263,993

Federal                              0                  1,042,074             1,042,074

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                                  0                  1,306,067             1,306,067

* * *  Roadway * * *

Sec. 3.  PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT – ROADWAY

The following modifications are made to the program development – roadway program:

(1)  Authorized spending on the Cabot-Danville FEGC F 028-3(26)C/1 project is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction        3,700,000                  1,000,000           -2,700,000

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    3,700,000                  1,000,000           -2,700,000

Sources of funds

State                       185,000                       50,000              -135,000

Federal                3,515,000                     950,000           -2,565,000

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    3,700,000                  1,000,000           -2,700,000

(2)  Authorized spending on the Hartford-Newbury I-91 IM 091-2(72) project is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction        4,500,000                                0           -4,500,000

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    4,500,000                                0           -4,500,000

Sources of funds

State                       900,000                                0              -900,000

Federal                3,600,000                                0           -3,600,000

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    4,500,000                                0           -4,500,000

(3)  Authorized spending on the Derby GSA border crossing IM 091-34(45) project is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                      287,500                                0              -287,500

Total                       287,500                                0              -287,500

Sources of funds

State                       287,500                                0              -287,500

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       287,500                                0              -287,500

(4)  The following project has received a federal earmark and is added to program development – roadway program – roadway projects candidates list: Bristol STP 021-1 ( ) – Downtown Streetscape and Sidewalk Improvements – $240,000; 100% federal funds available until expended.

(5)  The following project has received a federal earmark and is added to program development – roadway program – roadway projects candidates list: Essex Junction STP 5300 ( ) – Route 15 Streetscape Improvements – $1,641,500 to be allocated between this project and the existing project Colchester TCSP TCSE (7) – Campus Connector; 100% federal funds available until expended.

* * *  Paving * * *

Sec. 4.  PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT – PAVING

The following modifications are made to the program development – paving program:

(1) Authorized spending in the district leveling program is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction        1,650,000                  2,550,000                900,000

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    1,650,000                  2,550,000                900,000

Sources of funds

State                    1,650,000                  2,550,000                900,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    1,650,000                  2,550,000                900,000

(2) In addition to the change made in subdivision (1) of this section, total authorized spending in the paving program is increased by $866,850 in transportation funds and $3,467,400 in federal funds. The agency shall allocate the additional funds to paving projects in its discretion.

* * * Bike and Pedestrian Facilities * * *

Sec. 5.  PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT – BIKE AND PEDESTRIAN

             FACILITIES

The following modifications are made to the program development – bike and pedestrian facilities:

(1)  The following project has received a federal earmark and is added to program development – bike and pedestrian facilities – bike and pedestrian facilities candidates list as follows: Bennington – STP WALK ( ) – Streetscape Improvement Project – $490,000; 100% federal funds available until expended.

* * * Traffic and Safety Operations * * *

Sec. 6.  PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT – TRAFFIC AND SAFETY

             OPERATIONS

The following modifications are made to the program development – traffic and safety operations program:

(1)  The agency is authorized to add to the transportation program a signalization project at the east entrance to Fort Ethan Allen on Vermont Route 15 for the primary purpose of providing more direct public transportation service along the Chittenden County Transportation Authority’s (CCTA) Essex Junction route subject to the agency’s approval of CCTA’s innovative financing proposal for construction of the project and concurrent approval and inclusion by the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO) of the project in the CCMPO’s transportation improvement program (TIP).  Subject to the project being added to the transportation program, spending on the project is authorized as follows:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                       50,000                  50,000

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                                  0                       50,000                  50,000

Sources of funds

State                                  0                                0                           0

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                       50,000                  50,000

Total                                  0                       50,000                  50,000

* * * Park & Ride * * *

Sec. 7.  PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT – PARK & RIDE

The following modifications are made to the program development park & ride  program:

(1) Authorized spending in the municipal park & ride grant program is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction           250,000                     300,000                  50,000

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       250,000                     300,000                  50,000

Sources of funds

State                       250,000                     300,000                  50,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       250,000                     300,000                  50,000

* * * Transportation Buildings * * *

Sec. 8.  TRANSPORTATION BUILDINGS

The following modifications are made to the transportation buildings program:

(1)  Authorized spending of development and evaluation funds on the Essex garage and office project is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                              3,000                                0                  -3,000

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                           3,000                                0                  -3,000

Sources of funds                                                                             

State                           3,000                                0                  -3,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                           3,000                                0                  -3,000

(2)  The agency shall report by January 15, 2009 to the house and senate committees on transportation on the agency’s plans for the location of maintenance facilities in Chittenden and Addison counties and in the interim shall not advance its current plan for the relocation of the facilities.

* * * Maintenance * * *

Sec. 9.  MAINTENANCE

(a)  Total authorized spending in the maintenance program is amended as follows:

FY09                               As Proposed       As Amended             Change

Personal Services           32,012,562         32,012,562                      0

Operating Expenses       32,156,492         31,686,242          -470,250

Grants                                316,020              316,020                      0

Total                              64,485,074         64,014,824          -470,250

Sources of funds

State                              60,733,558         60,305,808          -427,750

Federal                            3,651,516           3,609,016            -42,500

Other                                  100,000              100,000                      0

Total                              64,485,074         64,014,824          -470,250

(b)  These changes are made to reduce funding for the purchase of temporary bridge parts and to reduce fund in the ITS program. Authorized spending in the ITS program includes support for the installation of RWIS stations along the Interstate 89 corridor between Royalton and Williston.

* * * Aviation * * *

Sec. 10.  AVIATION

The following modifications are made to the aviation program:

(1)  Authorized spending on the Burlington International Airport AIP program is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                          360,000                     360,000                           0

ROW                     900,000                     900,000                           0

Construction        3,210,000                  3,210,000                           0

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    4,470,000                  4,470,000                           0

Sources of funds

State                       218,200                     180,000                -38,200

Federal                4,023,000                  4,023,000                           0

Local                      228,800                     267,000                  38,200

Total                    4,470,000                  4,470,000                           0

(2)  In addition to the change made in subdivision (1) of this section, total authorized spending in the aviation program is reduced by $100,000 in transportation funds.  The agency shall determine where the reductions are to be made.

* * * Bridge Maintenance * * *

Sec. 11.  BRIDGE MAINTENANCE

The following modifications are made to the bridge maintenance program:

(1)  Authorized spending for the purchase of a servi-lift vehicle is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction           500,000                                0              -500,000

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       500,000                                0              -500,000


Sources of funds

State                       500,000                                0              -500,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       500,000                                0              -500,000

* * * Town Bridges * * *

Sec. 12.  TOWN BRIDGE

The following modifications are made to the town bridge program:

(1)  Authorized spending on the Dummerston TH62 West River BHO 1442(28) project is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction        1,128,000                                0           -1,128,000

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    1,128,000                                0           -1,128,000

Sources of funds

State                       225,600                                0              -225,600

Federal                   902,400                                0              -902,400

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                    1,128,000                                0           -1,128,000

(2) Authorized spending on the Stamford TH14 TH3 9611 project is a amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                            34,669                                0                -34,669

ROW                       48,286                                0                -48,286

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                                 0                                0                           0

Total                         82,955                                0                -82,955

Sources of funds

State                         74,660                                0                -74,660

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                          8,295                                0                  -8,295

Total                         82,955                                0                -82,955

(3)  A project to reconstruct the Bridge Street bridge in Morrisville on VT 100 is added to the transportation program. 

(4)  A project to reconstruct the Ripley bridge on Ripley Road in Rutland City near the intersection of Ripley Road and Dorr Drive is added to the transportation program.

* * * Town Highway Emergency Fund * * *

Sec. 13.  TOWN HIGHWAY EMERGENCY FUND

Funding of the town highway emergency fund is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

Other                                 0                     312,860                312,860

Total                                  0                     312,860                312,860

Sources of funds

State                                  0                     312,860                312,860

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                                  0                     312,860                312,860

* * * Rail * * *

Sec. 14.  RAIL

The following modifications are made to the rail program:

(1)  Authorized spending on the three-way partnership program is amended to read as follows.  In future budget years, funding for the program shall be limited to the costs of specific projects.

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                                     0                                0                           0

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                      750,000                       45,000              -705,000

Total                       750,000                       45,000              -705,000

Sources of funds

State                       250,000                       15,000              -235,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                      500,000                       30,000              -470,000

Total                       750,000                       45,000              -705,000

(2)(A)  Authorized spending for the project to design, permit, and rehabilitate the railroad tunnel under North Avenue (TH3) in Burlington is amended to read as follows:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

PE                            50,000                                0                -50,000

ROW                                0                                0                           0

Construction                      0                                0                           0

Other                                 0                  1,200,000             1,200,000

Total                         50,000                  1,200,000             1,150,000

Sources of funds

State                         50,000                                0                -50,000

Federal                              0                     960,000                960,000

Local                                 0                     240,000                240,000

Total                         50,000                  1,200,000             1,150,000

(B)  The project shall be advanced to construction as quickly as possible, using western corridor federal earmark funds for the $960,000 federal share. As a precondition to advancing the project, the tunnel’s owner, New England Central Railroad, Inc., must agree to be entirely responsible for the non-federal share as well as for any additional costs that may be incurred to complete the scope of work agreed to in the project agreement.

(C)  The agency of transportation shall work with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to have federal oversight responsibility for federal earmark funds used for the North Avenue tunnel project transferred from FHWA to FRA.

(D)  To replace the federal earmark funding used on the project, the agency is authorized to seek additional federal earmarks for other western corridor projects.     

(3)  Authorized spending on lease and encroachment management of railroad right-of-way is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

Other                      350,000                     300,000                -50,000

Total                       350,000                     300,000                -50,000

Sources of funds

State                       350,000                     300,000                -50,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       350,000                     300,000                -50,000

(4)  Authorized spending on maintenance of railroad buildings is amended to read:

FY09                   As Proposed              As Amended                 Change

Other                      175,000                     125,000                -50,000

Total                       175,000                     125,000                -50,000

Sources of funds

State                       175,000                     125,000                -50,000

Federal                              0                                0                           0

Local                                 0                                0                           0

Total                       175,000                     125,000                -50,000

* * * Rail Quiet Zones * * *

Sec. 15.  RAIL QUIET ZONES

(a)  The secretary of the agency shall negotiate and may approve an agreement on behalf of the state with the municipalities of Burlington, South Burlington, and Shelburne to cooperatively administer and fund the maintenance expenses of the quiet zones on the Vermont Railway.  Any agreement shall include but not be limited to the following conditions:

(1) The agreement shall take effect in fiscal year 2010;

(2) Subject to availability of appropriated funds, total participation by the state of Vermont shall not exceed 50 percent of the total annual operating costs; and

(3) The agreement will be open to renegotiation in the event that a change in train traffic triggers the need to consider noise mitigation under an applicable federal statute or regulation.

* * * Annual Reports * * *

Sec. 16.  19 V.S.A. § 10c(k) is added to read:

(k)  The agency shall by January 15 of each year submit a report on the pavement conditions of the state highway system to the house and senate committees on transportation.

Sec. 17.  19 V.S.A. § 10c(l) is added to read:

(l)  The agency shall by January 15 of each year submit a report on the condition of bridges, culverts, and other structures on the state system and town highways to the house and senate committees on transportation.

* * * Project Prioritization and Addition of New Projects* * *

Sec. 18.  PROJECT PRIORITIZATION PROCESS AND PROPOSAL OF

               NEW PROJECTS FOR THE STATE  TRANSPORTATION

               PROGRAM BY REGIONAL PLANNING  COMMISSIONS

(a)  To better reflect regional economic development, land use, and project priorities, the agency, in cooperation with the regional planning commissions, shall modify the existing project prioritization system to ensure that local input is assigned appropriate weighting in the system.

(b)  The agency and the regional planning commissions shall jointly develop and adopt and the agency shall implement a written procedure that allows a regional planning commission to propose that a new project be substituted for an existing project or projects within the same region that are in the state transportation program.  The procedure shall:

(1)  ensure that the proposed new project for addition to the transportation program and the existing project or projects to be deleted from the program are roughly comparable in cost, using updated cost estimates;

(2) consider for removal from the transportation program only projects that are in candidate status;

(3)  describe the project identification requirements and time line requirements that an RPC must satisfy to present the proposed change in the transportation program to the general assembly in a particular fiscal year; and

(4)  describe the agency-regional planning commission communication protocols that will apply to the process.

(c)  Each year, the agency’s proposed transportation program shall include a separate report entitled “RPC Proposals” which shall describe all regional planning commission-proposed changes to the state’s transportation program made in accordance with the procedure adopted pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(d)  The agency and regional planning commissions shall report on the adopted procedure described in subsection (b) of this section and on changes made to the priority system in response to subsection (a) of this section to the committees on transportation by January 15, 2009.

Sec. 19.  19 V.S.A. § 10g(g) is added to read:

(g)  The agency’s annual transportation program shall include a separate report referencing this section describing all proposed projects in the program which would be new to the state transportation program if adopted.

* * * Study of Transportation Bonding Options * * *

Sec. 20.  STUDY OF TRANSPORTATION BONDING OPTIONS AND

                REDUCTION OF USE OF TRANSPORTATION FUNDS IN

                SUPPORT OF GENERAL GOVERNMENT

(a)  The state treasurer shall select and oversee, pursuant to a public competitive selection process, an investment bank to act as an adviser to the state to develop multiple financing proposals, including general obligation, revenue, and GARVEE bond options, for a program dedicated to assisting in closing the gap between transportation needs and available revenue.

(b)  The state treasurer shall issue a report on the funding options available to the state for the purposes stated in subsection (a) of this section to the members of the joint fiscal committee and the capital debt affordability advisory committee.  These committees shall meet on or before September 1, 2008 to review the report.  Based on the treasurer’s report, the joint fiscal office shall prepare for consideration by the joint fiscal committee transportation funding options available to the state which shall include annual reductions in the amount of transportation funds appropriated for general government purposes.  On or before October 1, 2008, the joint fiscal committee, in consultation with the capital debt affordability advisory committee, shall make  recommendations to the governor for the purpose of advising the governor during the budget preparation process.

* * * State-Owned Railroad Property * * *

Sec. 21.  Sec. 17(e) of No. 175 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:

(e)  The authority granted by this section shall expire on June 30, 2008 2009.

* * * Central Garage * * *

Sec. 22.  AGENCY VEHICLE FLEET

Pursuant to 19 V.S.A. § 13(b), the agency of transportation is authorized to add one vehicle to the fleet as follows:

(1)  one light duty vehicle for use by the program development division structures section for bridge inspections.


Sec. 23.  TRANSFER TO THE CENTRAL GARAGE FUND

Notwithstanding 19 V.S.A. § 13(c), in fiscal year 2009, $1,120,000.00 shall be transferred from the transportation fund to the central garage fund and allocated to the transportation equipment replacement account within the central garage fund for the purchase of equipment as authorized in 19 V.S.A. § 13(b). 

* * * Limitation on Use of State Highway Facilities * * *

Sec. 24.  REPEAL

19 V.S.A. § 21(c) (agency rules for parking) is repealed.

Sec. 25.  23 V.S.A. § 1106 is added to read:

§ 1106.  LIMITATIONS ON USE OF STATE HIGHWAY FACILITIES

(a)  For purposes of this section, “state highway facility” means a state highway rest area, picnic ground, parking area, or park-and-ride facility.

(b)  No person shall enter or remain on any state highway facility for the purpose of overnight camping unless the particular facility has been designated for that purpose by the traffic committee.

(c) The traffic committee, after evaluating function, safety, and transportation mobility at a particular state highway facility, may prohibit persons entering or remaining at the particular facility for the purpose of selling, hiring, or leasing any goods, wares, merchandise or services.

(d)  The traffic committee, on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation or findings as to adverse effects on the quiet enjoyment and property values of people living adjacent to a state highway facility, may designate the size and types of vehicles allowed to park in a state highway facility or in particular areas of a state highway facility.

(e)  Notice of the prohibitions under this section shall be posted at the affected facilities by regulatory signs conforming to the manual on uniform traffic control devices.

* * * Transportation Fund; Sales Tax on Aviation Jet Fuel * * *

Sec. 26.  32 V.S.A. § 9741(7) is amended to read:

(7)  Sales of motor fuels taxed or exempted under chapter 28 of Title 23, provided, however, that aviation jet fuel shall be taxed under this chapter with the proceeds to be allocated to the transportation fund in accordance with section 11 of Title 19.

* * * Public Transit Study * * *

Sec. 27.  PUBLIC TRANSIT STUDY

(a)  Public transit study.  Consistent with the goals, findings, and recommendations of the January 15, 2008 legislative report (Sec. 45 of No. 75 of the Acts of 2007) titled “A Study Regarding the Regional Connectivity of Vermont’s Public Transit System,” the agency of transportation, in cooperation with the joint fiscal office, shall conduct a further study to develop findings and recommendations for improving the efficient and effective delivery of public transit services in Vermont. 

(b)  Goal of study.  The goal of the study is to recommend a governance and funding structure for public transportation that creates the most efficient use of taxpayer funds while simultaneously creating the most efficient system of public transportation services consistent with the statutory policy goals in 24 V.S.A. § 5083.  The study shall:

(1)  Make use of the data and information generated by the current

short-range transit planning process to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the public transit delivery system;

(2)  Compare the organizational structure and current service delivery system with those of several other states;

(3)  Analyze different possible organizational structures for Vermont that could lower administrative or operating costs and improve service delivery throughout the state.

(c)  The agency shall direct the study with the involvement of the agency of human services and of all public transit providers in the state who are direct grantees and sub-recipients of state and federal funds.

(d)  Consistent with federal United We Ride initiatives, the study shall consider all federal and state funding invested through or by state and federal agencies on public, human service, and related transportation programs and shall evaluate the potential for achieving greater efficiency through coordination of effort or consolidation of funding and effort.

(e)  The study report shall be delivered to the general assembly on or before January 15, 2009.

* * * Larrabee’s Point Ferry * * *

Sec. 28.  Sec. 1 of No. 59 of the Acts of 1991 is amended to read:

Sec. 1.  LARRABEE’S POINT FERRY

(a)  Rights granted.

The right and privilege of maintaining and operating a ferry across Lake Champlain from Larrabee’s Point in the town of Shoreham, county of Addison and state of Vermont, to the town of Ticonderoga in the state of New York, is granted to Shorewell Ferries, Inc 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, a Vermont corporation having its principal office at Shoreham in the county of Addison, its successors and assigns, for a period of 20 45 years from the first day of January, 1991.  No person other than Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, its successors or assigns, may operate a ferry within ten miles north or ten miles south from the ferry landing now in use on Larrabee’s Point during such 20 year 45-year period.  The right and privilege herein granted includes the right to maintain the existing landings.

(b)  Conditions.

Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, its successors and assigns, shall be subject to the orders of the transportation board as authorized in Title 5, parts 1 and 3 and shall pay all taxes assessed this franchise and any property of Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, used in connection with the ferry.  If the rights granted under this act are transferred to or acquired by the successors or assigns of Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, the transfer shall be recorded in the office of the secretary of state.

(c)  Forfeiture.

If Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, its successors or assigns, establishes and operates a ferry under authority of this act, it shall be the duty of Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, its successors or assigns, as the case may be, to maintain suitable and safe ferryboats, sufficient for carrying and transporting motor and other vehicles, horses, cattle, passengers, and goods, and to operate ferry service at reasonable and seasonal times as required by the transportation board, but in no event shall the transportation board require the ferry to be operated prior to May 15 or after November 15 in any calendar year.  Failure to comply with any order of the transportation board, or to pay any tax lawfully assessed against the franchise or against property of Shorewell Ferries, Inc. 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, its successors or assigns, owned or used in connection with the franchise, shall work a forfeiture of the rights and privileges granted under this act.

(d)  Investments made.

All investments made by 1759 Ltd. d/b/a Fort Ticonderoga Ferry into the ferry service shall be reported to the agency of transportation, upon request, to obtain appropriate toll credits.

* * * Highway Maintenance Vehicles—Right-of-Way * * *

Sec. 29.  23 V.S.A. § 1050a is added to read:

§ 1050a.  AUTHORIZED HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE VEHICLES

(a)  For purposes of this section, “authorized vehicle” means a vehicle authorized by the agency of transportation (in the case of state highways) or the municipality (in the case of town highways) to perform maintenance on a highway.

(b)  The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any authorized vehicle obviously and actually engaged in work upon a highway when the vehicle displays flashing lights meeting the requirements of subsection 1252(b) of this title.


* * * Vermont Coordinate System * * *

Sec. 30.  1 V.S.A. § 671 is amended to read:

§ 671.  VERMONT COORDINATE SYSTEMS DEFINED

The systems of plane coordinates which have been established by the National Ocean Service/National Geodetic Survey (formerly the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey) or its successors for defining and stating the horizontal positions or locations of points on the surface of the earth within the state of Vermont are hereafter to be known and designated as the “Vermont Coordinate System 1927 and the Vermont Coordinate System 1983.”  The term “Vermont Coordinate System” is synonymous with the term “Vermont State Plane Coordinate System.”

Sec. 31.  1 V.S.A. § 672 is amended to read:

§ 672.  COORDINATES DEFINED

The plane coordinate values for a point on the earth’s surface, used to express the horizontal position or location of such point on the Vermont Coordinate Systems, shall consist of two distances, expressed in U.S. Survey feet and decimals of a foot when using the Vermont Coordinate System 1927 and expressed in meters and decimals of a meter, or U.S. Survey feet and decimals of a foot when using the Vermont Coordinate System 1983.  One of these distances, to be known as the “x-coordinate,” shall give the position in an east-and-west direction; the other, to be known as the “y-coordinate,” shall give the position in a north-and-south direction.  These coordinates shall be made to depend upon and conform to plane rectangular coordinate values for the monumented points of the North American Horizontal Geodetic Control Network National Spatial Reference System established by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, its predecessor, or its successors.

* * * Railroad Vandalism Prevention * * *

Sec. 32.  13 V.S.A. § 3110 is added to read:

§ 3110.  RAILROAD VANDALISM

(a)  Purpose.  The purpose of this section is to prevent acts of vandalism to railroad property which affect the health, safety, and welfare of the traveling public, the neighboring community, and railroad employees; to protect railroad property and freight in transportation by railroad; and otherwise to enhance the safety of transportation by railroad.

(b)  Definitions.  For purposes of this section:

(1)  “Bodily injury” shall have the same meaning as in subdivision 1021(1) of this title.

(2)  “Railroad” means any form of non-highway ground transportation that runs on rails or electromagnetic guideways, including:

(A)  commuter or other short-haul railroad passenger service in a  metropolitan or suburban area; and

(B)  high-speed ground transportation systems that connect metropolitan areas, but does not include rapid transit operations in an urban area that are not connected to the general railroad system of transportation.

(3)  “Railroad carrier” means a person providing railroad transportation.

(4)  “Railroad property” means all property owned, leased, or operated by a railroad carrier, including a right-of-way, track, bridge, yard, shop, station, tunnel, viaduct, trestle, depot, warehouse, terminal, railroad signal system, train control system, centralized dispatching system, or any other structure, appurtenance, or equipment owned, leased, or used in the operation of any railroad carrier, including a train, locomotive, engine, rail car, work equipment, rolling stock, or safety device.  “Railroad property” does not include administrative buildings, administrative offices, or administrative office equipment.

(5)  “Right-of-way” means the track or roadbed owned, leased, or operated by a railroad carrier which is located on either side of its tracks and which is readily recognizable to a reasonable person as being railroad property or is reasonably identified as such by fencing or appropriate signs.

(6)  “Serious bodily injury” shall have the same meaning as in subdivision 1021(2) of this title.

(c)  Vandalism of railroad property.  No person shall, with reckless disregard for railroad property or the safety of another, commit an act which causes damage to railroad property.

(d)  Penalty for vandalism of railroad property. 

(1)  A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be fined not more than $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, if the violation results in property damage of $900.00 or less. 

(2)  A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both, if the violation results in bodily injury to another person or property damage of greater than $900.00. 

(3)  A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be fined not more than $20,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, if the violation results in death or serious bodily injury to another person.

(e)  Aggravated railroad vandalism.  A person who intentionally causes damage to railroad property which results in death or serious bodily injury to another person shall be guilty of aggravated railroad vandalism.

(f)  Penalty for aggravated railroad vandalism.  A person who violates subsection (e) of this section shall be fined not more than $25,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both. 

(g)  If serious bodily injury or death results to more than one person other than the defendant as a result of a violation of this section, the defendant may be convicted of a separate violation of this section for each decedent or person injured.

Sec. 33.  REPEALS

(1)  13 V.S.A. §§ 3101-3104 are repealed (railroad crimes).

(2)  5 V.S.A. § 3733 is repealed (damage to mills, dams and bridges).

* * * Bennington Rail Banking Project * * *

Sec. 34.  BENNINGTON RAIL BANKING PROJECT

The Bennington rail banking project, of which the project Bennington STP Bike (26) is a portion, is authorized pursuant to the following conditions:

(1)  Subject to Surface Transportation Board and Vermont Railway, Inc. approval, the rail banking shall commence at a point south of the VT 7A underpass, but not south of valuation station 3103+00 of which is located 1,700 feet south of the VT 7A underpass, and extend southerly to the terminus of the railroad in Bennington.

 (2)  A runaround track shall be constructed as part of the bike path project north of valuation station 3103+00 when project Bennington STP Bike (26) is constructed.

(3)  The town of Bennington shall be responsible for:

(A)  all fees and expenses incurred as part of the STB rail banking proceedings;

(B)  all costs associated with the removal and proper disposal of the rails and ties with the town retaining the entire salvage value of the rails and ties; and

(C)  after the rails and ties have been removed, all costs associated with grading the rail bed to a uniform grade in a neat appearance, allowing for proper drainage of the rail bed.

(4)  where feasible and with the approval of the Vermont Railway, Inc., a portion of the railroad right-of-way between valuation station 3103+00 and VT 7A may be used for a transportation path provided it does not interfere with railroad operations.

* * * School Bus Exemption for School Employees and Volunteers * * *

Sec. 35.  23 V.S.A. § 4(34)(A)(iv) is amended to read:

(iv)  motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s rated seating capacity of fewer than 11 persons, including the operator, which are owned, leased, or hired by a school, or for which services are reimbursed by a school.  However, if used to transport students, these shall be considered a Type II school bus for purposes of licensure, shall display an identification sign as prescribed in subdivision 1283(a)(1) of this title, and shall be equipped with a simple system of at least two red alternating warning lights; unless the driver is a school employee or a volunteer approved by the school or a regional public transit agency after a criminal background check, and is transporting no more than four students excluding the operator, provided that the vehicle has seat belts for all persons being transported;

* * * Public Transportation System Integrity * * *

Sec. 36.  PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM INTEGRITY

(a)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the agency of transportation is authorized, first, to spend up to $100,000.00 in federal funds from the Public Transit Program – Statewide Encouragement of Carpools (STP RIDE) program and, second, to spend up to $350,000.00 in funds ($315,000.00 federal funds and $35,000.00 state funds) from the Public Transit Program – Statewide Capital to make grant awards to subrecipients and other public transportation providers for the purpose of maintaining existing public transportation services statewide. 

(b)  To help the agency of transportation determine whether increased costs are likely to trigger service reductions in the statewide system of general public transportation services, each public transportation provider, by May 31, 2008, shall provide the agency of transportation with an estimate of its projected budget deficit, if any, for fiscal year 2009, assuming continuation of the services in existence upon passage of this act.  Each projected budget deficit estimate shall be the difference in the amount between revenues budgeted by the provider agency in a board-approved budget and the expenses now necessary to incur to maintain current service levels.  Public transportation providers shall inform the agency of transportation of the per-gallon fuel price used to determine operating expenses, their capacity to use preventive maintenance funding to maintain existing levels of service, as well as any other information that the agency of transportation may deem necessary to conduct its analysis.

(c)  The agency of transportation in making grant awards under this section shall mitigate to the greatest extent practicable loss of general public transportation services.  In addition, the agency of transportation shall provide for an equitable geographic distribution of funds statewide, if possible, depending upon each provider’s ability to utilize preventive maintenance funding. 

(d)  Any funding not needed to maintain existing services shall remain in the capital program.

(e)  As early as practicable, the agency of transportation shall issue a report to the joint transportation oversight committee  established under 19 V.S.A. § 12b(a) regarding grant awards made under this section.


* * * Transportation Funds in Support of General Government * * *

Sec. 37.  19 V.S.A. § 11a is amended to read:

§ 11a.  Transportation funds appropriated for support of government

The maximum amount of transportation funds that may be appropriated for the support of government, other than for the agency of transportation, the transportation board, transportation pay act funds, construction of transportation capital facilities used by the agency of transportation, and transportation debt service shall not exceed $35,007,219 $35,007,219.00 in fiscal year 2008 and in fiscal year 2009 and thereafter shall not exceed $32,852,807.00.

* * * Recycled Asphalt Pavement * * *

Sec. 38.  19 V.S.A. § 10c(m) is added to read:

(m)  Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) shall be used on all agency paving projects to the extent sources of quality RAP are available consistent with producing quality hot mix asphalt.  To that extent, the agency shall define paving project specifications and contract bid documents to allow the use of up to 50 percent RAP.  The agency shall compare the cost-benefit of the state retaining the RAP versus the contractor retaining the RAP, and the agency shall report to the house and senate committees on transportation on the results of the comparison of the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions.

* * * Smugglers Notch * * *

Sec. 39.  23 V.S.A. § 1006b is amended to read:

§ 1006b.  SMUGGLERS NOTCH; WINTER CLOSURE OF VERMONT ROUTE 108

     The agency of transportation may close the Smugglers Notch segment of Vermont Route 108 during periods of winter weather. To enforce the winter closure, the agency shall erect a lockable gate at both closure points, extending the width of the highway, posted with signs advising that the highway is closed and that traveling on the highway when it is closed is a violation of the motor vehicle laws of the state.  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, if the highway is officially closed but the gates at both closure points are not in a locked position across the highway, no ticket or any other form of summons and notice of a motor vehicle violation shall be issued to motorists driving on the closed portion of the highway signs conforming to the standards established by section 1025 of this title.

Sec. 40.  SUPPLEMENTARY MEASURES; RECREATIONAL AND EMERGENCY ACCESS

To preclude unauthorized access by motor vehicles to the Smugglers Notch segment of Vermont Route 108 when it is closed during periods of winter weather, the agency of transportation shall develop and implement a plan by December 15, 2008 to provide for installation of physical barriers and supplementary signage.  The plan shall provide for the continued accommodation of recreational and emergency access.

* * * State Rail Trails * * *

Sec. 41.  STATE MAINTAINED RAIL TRAILS

The agency shall report to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15, 2009 on a funding and management plan for all rail trails that are owned and maintained by the agency.

* * * Repeal of Miscellaneous Reporting Requirements * * *

Sec. 42.  SESSION LAW REPEALS

The following provisions of session law are repealed:

(1)  Sec. 2(a) of  No. 144 of (1998) of the Acts of the 1997 Adj. Sess. (report on changes in the scheduling of projects in the transportation capital program or project development plan).

(2)  Sec. 3(a) of No. 18 of 1999 (report on changes in the scheduling of projects in the transportation capital program or project development plan).

(3)  Sec. 3(a) of No. 156 of (2000) the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (report on changes in the scheduling of projects in the transportation capital program or project development plan).

(4)  Sec. 48(c) of No. 80 of 2005 (report on the status of Connecticut River bridge projects).

(5)  Sec. 20 of No. 175 of (2006) the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (report on purchase of equipment for Amtrak).

(6)  Sec. 50 of No. 175 of (2006) of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (report on collection of town bridge and culvert inventory data).

Sec. 43.  TITLE 19 REPEALS

The following provisions of Title 19 are repealed:

(1)  § 10g(d)(1) (analysis of balance between the state’s commitment to transportation projects and total available resources over the 10-year period commencing with the fiscal year of the transportation program).

(2)  § 10g(e) (separate report regarding certain projects with cost estimates exceeding $5 million). 

Sec. 44.  TITLE 23 REPEALS

The following provisions of Title 23 are repealed:

(1) § 304b(a) (report regarding conservation motor vehicle registration plates).

(2)  § 1042(d) (report on municipal truck routes).

(3)  § 1803(k) (annual report of Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission).

Sec. 45.  TITLE 32 REPEAL

32 V.S.A. § 706(4) (report on transfers of appropriation balances within the agency of transportation) is repealed:


* * * Aggregate Sources * * *

Sec. 46. AGGREGATE SOURCES

The agency of transportation shall coordinate with the agency of natural resources to investigate the potential for prepermitting new state aggregate sources, including the temporary installation of portable asphalt pavement plants associated with transportation resurfacing projects.  The agency’s director of program development shall brief the house and senate committees on transportation on the outcome of the evaluation during testimony on the fiscal year 2010 budget.

* * * Addison-Crown Point, NY Bridge * * *

Sec. 47. ADDISON-CROWN POINT, NY BRIDGE

Before entering into any agreement with the New York state department of transportation regarding replacement or rehabilitation of the bridge over Lake Champlain between Addison, VT and Crown Point, NY, the agency of transportation shall ensure that the agreement provides for thorough consideration of alternative transportation options, including replacement of the bridge with a ferry.    

* * * Truck Annual Permit Pilot Project * * *

Sec. 48.  23 V.S.A. §1402(e) is added to read:

(e)  Pilot project allowing annual permits for low bed trailers.

(1)  The commissioner may issue an annual permit to allow the transportation of a so-called “low-bed” trailer.  A “low-bed” trailer is defined as a trailer manufactured for the primary purpose of carrying heavy equipment on a flat-surfaced deck, which deck is at a height equal to or lower than the top of the rear axle group.

(2)  A blanket permit may be obtained for an annual fee of $250.00 per unit, provided the total vehicle length does not exceed 75 feet, does not exceed a loaded width of 12’6”, does not exceed a total weight of 108,000 lbs., and has a height not exceeding 14 feet.

(3)  Warning signs and flags shall be required if the vehicle exceeds 75 feet in length, or exceeds 8’6” in width.

(4)  This subsection shall expire on June 30, 2010.  No later than January 15, 2010, the department of motor vehicles, after consultation with the agency of transportation, Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and Vermont Truck and Bus Association, shall report to the house and senate committees on transportation on the results of this two year pilot project.  The report shall include recommendations on extending this provision on low bed trailers, as well as other recommendations relating to longer vehicle lengths.


* * * Vermont Truck Network * * *

Sec. 49.  23 V.S.A. § 1432(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The truck network.  The truck network shall consist of the following: U.S. Route 2 between the New Hampshire state line and the junction of U.S. Route 5; U.S. Route 2 from the junction of exit 21 on I-91 to exit 8 on Interstate 89; U.S. Route 2 between the New York state line and VT Route 78; VT Route 2A; U.S. Route 4 from the New York state line to the junction of VT Route 100 south; VT Route 279 from the New York state line to the junction of U.S. Route 7; U.S. Route 5 from the junction of U.S. Route 2 to the junction of exit 20 of I-91; U.S. Route 5 between I-91 at exit 22 to the south entrance of the St. Johnsbury-Lyndonville industrial park; U.S. Route 5 south from I-91 at exit 22 to the intersection of St. Johnsbury Railroad Street and Hastings Hill Street; U.S. Route 7; VT Route 9 from the New York state line to the junction of exit 2 on I-91; VT Route 9 from the junction of exit 3 on I-91 to the New Hampshire state line; VT Route 18 from U.S. Route 2 to the New Hampshire state line; VT Route 22A between U.S. Route 4 and U.S. Route 7; VT Route 78; VT Route 103; VT Route 105 from the junction of U.S. Route 7 to the junction of VT Route 100, then southerly on VT Route 100 to the junction of VT Route 100 and VT Route 14, then easterly on VT Route 14 to the junction of VT Route 14 and U.S. Route 5, then northerly on U.S. Route 5 to the junction of U.S. Route 5 and VT Route 105, then easterly on VT Route 105 from the junction of U.S. Route 5 to the New Hampshire border; VT Route 104 from VT Route 105 to I-89 at exit 19; VT Route 253 from the New Hampshire border to the Canadian border; VT Route 289; and U.S. Route 302. The commissioner is authorized to place special restrictions applying to motor vehicles on any route of the truck network when, in his or her opinion, the restrictions would provide for the safe operation of all vehicles on the route.

* * * Enhancement Grants * * *

Sec. 50.  TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENT GRANTS

Notwithstanding 19 V.S.A. § 38(e), no new awards will be made under the transportation enhancement grant program during federal fiscal year 2009.  The agency shall advise towns and other potential applicants of the one-year suspension.

* * * Authority to Purchase Amtrak Equipment * * *

Sec. 51.  Sec. 44 of No. 75 of the Acts of 2007 is amended as follows:

Sec. 44.  LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL FOR PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT

               FOR AMTRAK VERMONT SERVICE

(a)  Pursuant to Sec. 20 of No. 175 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006), the general assembly approves the state of Vermont’s purchase, through the agency of transportation, of five Colorado Rail Car units, consisting of three motorized units and two passenger cars.

(b)  This approval is subject to the following conditions:

(1)  Financing for the demonstration project must be available under the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

(2)  The Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) equipment selected by Amtrak through a competitive procurement process in 2003 must be utilized.

(3)  The purchase contract with the DMU vendor shall include an option to purchase future equipment, with pricing protections.

(4)  The DMU equipment must meet or exceed current Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) structural safety requirements. 

(5)  The DMU equipment must comply with accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

(6)  The vendor of the DMU equipment must agree, should the state of Vermont determine that the demonstration project is unsuccessful, to act as the state’s agent to sell the DMU equipment at a minimum of 90 percent of the purchase price and, should the DMU equipment not sell within one year, to purchase the DMU equipment back at 90 percent of the purchase price.  The stipulation in the vendor contract related to the equipment buyback must be reviewed by the state treasurer as containing satisfactory protection for the state’s financial interest related to the state indebtedness limits.

(7)  The contract for construction and purchase of the DMU equipment must be approved by the state treasurer and the attorney general as including sufficient guarantees to assure successful manufacture and delivery of the DMU equipment, as well as performance of the vendor’s undertakings to sell or buy back the DMU equipment, should the state determine that the demonstration project is unsuccessful.

(8)  Any agreements between the state of Vermont and Amtrak or the FRA must be flexible enough to permit redeployment of the DMU equipment in the event of the reconfiguration of Amtrak service to Vermont.

* * * Report on Diesel Tax Exemption * * *

Sec. 52. REPORT ON MOTOR BUS EXEMPTION FROM DIESEL TAX

The joint fiscal office shall analyze and report by January 15, 2009 to the house and senate committees on transportation on the transportation fund revenue implications of amending the diesel tax to eliminate the exemption for motor buses.  The report shall specifically consider the revenue implications of amending 23 V.S.A. § 3003(d) to read:

“§ 3003.  IMPOSITION OF TAX; EXCEPTIONS

* * *

(d)(1)  For users, the following uses shall be exempt from taxation under this chapter and be entitled to a credit for any tax paid for such uses under section 3020 of this title:

(A)  uses, the taxation of which would be precluded by the laws and Constitution of the United States and this state;

(B)  uses for agricultural purposes not conducted on the highways of the state;

(C)  uses by any state, municipal, school district, fire district or other governmentally owned vehicles for official purposes;

(D)  uses by any vehicle off the highways of the state; and

(E)  uses by motor buses registered in this state; and

(F)  uses by any vehicle registered as a farm truck under subsection 367(f) of this title.

(2) Provided, however, that no tax shall be due with respect to fuel for use in any state, municipal, school district, fire district or other governmentally-owned vehicle owned, leased, or contracted for other than single-trip use by a government entity, as long as the distributor takes from the purchaser at the time of sale an exemption certificate in the form prescribed by the commissioner; and provided, further, that no tax shall be due with respect to fuel delivered for farm use to a farm bulk fuel storage tank.

* * *”

* * * Railroad Farm Crossings * * *

Sec. 53.  5 V.S.A. § 3456 is amended to read:

§ 3456.  JURISDICTION

Without affecting special provisions of law relating to matters contained herein, the board shall have jurisdiction on due notice to hear, determine, render judgment, and make orders and decrees in all matters provided for in the charter of any railroad, or in the statutes of this state relating to railroads, and shall have like jurisdiction in all matters respecting:

* * *

(3)  The construction and maintenance of proper fences, cattle guards and, farm crossings, and rural crossings;

* * *

Sec. 54.  5 V.S.A. § 3639 is amended to read:

§ 3639.  FARM CROSSINGS AND CATTLE GUARDS; CONSTRUCTION

              AND MAINTENANCE

(a)  For the purposes of this subchapter, “farm crossing” means a railroad crossing that is utilized exclusively as access to and from adjoining property which is actively used for farming including one residence of the farmer or farm family, or residence of a farm employee or employee family when the housing is owned by the farmer, and the resident is directly involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm.

(b)  A crossing that does not completely meet the criteria for a “farm crossing” as set forth in subsection (a) of this section nor the criteria for a rural crossing as set forth in section 3639a of this title shall be deemed a private crossing.  The owner of property accessed by a private crossing shall be liable for the total costs associated with construction, upgrade, and maintenance of the crossing as well as securing and maintaining liability insurance.

(c)(1)  For the purposes of this subchapter, “farming” shall mean any of the following activities that, by themselves or together, amount to a minimum of 50 percent of the use of the land served by the farm crossing:

(A)  the cultivation or other use of land for growing food, fiber, Christmas trees, maple sap, horticultural and orchard crops, or forest products; or

(B)  the raising, feeding, or management of livestock, poultry, fish, or bees; or

(C)  the operation of greenhouses; or

(D)  the production of maple syrup; or

(E)  the on-site storage, preparation, and wholesale of agricultural products principally produced on the farm; or

(F)  the on-site production of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes produced on the farm.

(2)  Farming shall not include retail and other activities which involve use of a crossing by the general public, including but not limited to farm stands, pick-your-own operations, and cut-your-own operations.

(d)(1)  A person or corporation owning or operating a railroad shall construct and maintain farm crossings of the road railroad for the use of the proprietors of accommodation of farming on lands adjoining the railroad, and .  If livestock are kept on those adjoining lands, the railroad shall provide cattle guards or gates at all farm and road highway crossings sufficient to prevent cattle and animals from getting on the railroad.  A farm crossing may be temporarily or permanently closed or discontinued by mutual agreement between all parties having an interest therein.  If no such mutual agreement can be reached by such interested parties, then a person or corporation owning or operating a railroad and desiring to close any farm crossing shall make application to the transportation board.  The board shall thereupon give notice to all parties interested, in such manner as the board may direct, of hearing on such application, such hearing to be in the county where such crossing is located. After such hearing, a person or corporation owning or operating a railroad shall not close such farm crossing without the approval of the transportation board.  A person aggrieved by the closing of a farm crossing after January 1, 1955, by a person or corporation owning or operating a railroad may notify the transportation board by registered or certified mail of such closing, and thereupon such board shall conduct a hearing.  Notice and place of hearing shall be as hereinbefore provided.  The transportation board may require the reopening of any such crossing and make such other order as is permitted in section 3649 of this title.  At any such hearing the burden of proof shall rest with the person or persons effecting or seeking to effect the closing of such farm crossing.  Any person aggrieved by an order of the transportation board may, in accordance with Rule 75 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, appeal to the superior court, whereupon such cause shall be tried as an original action brought under the provisions of section 402 of Title 12.  The railroad shall file for record notice of the existence of the farm crossing maintained by the railroad in the clerk’s office of the town where the crossing is located.

(2)  In the event that a farmer significantly increases actual use of a farm crossing, either temporarily or permanently, the farmer shall notify the railroad of the nature, scope, and duration of the increase prior to the increase so as to give the railroad sufficient time to alert its train crews operating a train over the crossing of the increase in use.  Where the nature, scope, and duration of the increase in use is such that an upgrade is necessary, the railroad shall pay the first $2,500.00 of the cost, three-fourths of the cost between $2,500.00 and $5,000.00, one-half of the cost from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00, and the farmer shall pay all of the cost of the upgrade over $10,000.00.  Where the railroad and the farmer cannot come to mutual agreement over the necessary upgrade and the cost of the upgrade, application shall be made to the transportation board pursuant to section 3639b of this title.  A railroad shall be notified by the farmer of a crossing whenever a farm crossing that has not been permanently closed is again being used.

(b)  A person or railroad corporation closing any farm crossing in violation of a provision of this section or failing to comply with any such order shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00 and any person aggrieved by such violation may recover his or her damages in an action on this statute.

Sec. 55.  5 V.S.A. § 3639a is added to read:

§ 3639a.  RURAL CROSSINGS

(a)  For purposes of this section, a “rural crossing” is a crossing that:

(1)  Was a farm crossing in existence on January 1, 1955;

(2)  Has not been authorized for closure by mutual agreement of the parties or by an order of the public service board or the transportation board;

(3)  Is no longer used for the accommodation of farming as defined in section 3639 of this title;

(4)  Is not the subject of a private crossing agreement between the railroad and the owner of the land accommodated by the crossing; and

(5)  Has not been laid out as a town or state highway.

(b)  Notwithstanding section 3425 of this title, a railroad shall maintain rural crossings to accommodate the historic uses of the crossings as they existed for 15 or more years prior to January 1, 2008.  The railroad shall file for record notice of the existence of the rural crossing maintained by the railroad in the clerk’s office of the town where the crossing is located.  However, a railroad shall not be under any obligation to construct improvements to the crossing to accommodate new or additional uses of the crossings.

(c)  A railroad shall not close a rural crossing except by agreement with the owner of the land accommodated by the crossing or pursuant to an order of the transportation board under section 3639b of this title which authorizes the closure.

Sec. 56.  5 V.S.A. § 3639b is added to read:

§ 3639b.  TRANSPORTATION BOARD HEARINGS

(a)  A farm or rural crossing may be temporarily or permanently closed,  discontinued, consolidated, upgraded, or moved by mutual agreement between all parties having an interest in the crossing.  If a mutual agreement cannot be reached by the interested parties, then a railroad desiring to close, discontinue, consolidate, or move any farm or rural crossing shall make application to the transportation board.  The board shall give notice of the hearing to all interested parties, including, but not limited to, the owner of the land accommodated by the crossing, the legislative body of the municipality in which the crossing is located, the secretary of transportation, and the secretary of agriculture, food and markets.  The hearing shall be held in the county where the crossing is located.

(b)  In considering whether to approve closure, discontinuance, consolidation, upgrade, or movement of a farm or rural crossing, the board shall consider the following:

(1)  The availability of alternative access to the property served by the crossing;

(2)  The feasibility of consolidating two or more existing crossings;

(3)  Safety issues, taking into account actual and expected pedestrian and vehicular use of the crossing, as well as present and reasonably foreseeable rail traffic and train speeds; and

(4)  The cost of improvements to the crossing as compared to the value of the land accommodated by the crossing. 

(c)  The board may delay the effective date of an order approving closure, discontinuance, consolidation, upgrade, or movement of a farm or rural crossing for up to one year to allow the parties a reasonable opportunity to negotiate a private crossing agreement.

(d)  A person aggrieved by a railroad’s closing, discontinuance, consolidation, upgrade, or movement of a farm or rural crossing after January 1, 1955 or by a railroad’s failure to maintain a farm or rural crossing as required in sections 3639 and 3639a of this title shall notify the parties by certified mail, specifying the location of the crossing and the relief sought from the railroad.  If the person remains aggrieved 10 days after providing notice, the person may file a request for hearing with the board, which shall promptly schedule a hearing in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

(e)  The transportation board shall retain jurisdiction of cases where there has been a change of conditions regarding a crossing.

(f)  The final order of the transportation board shall be filed by the aggrieved party for record in the clerk’s office of the town where the crossing is located.

Sec. 57.  5 V.S.A. § 3639c is added to read:

§ 3639c.  CIVIL PENALTY

A railroad closing any farm or rural crossing in violation of sections 3639 and 3639a of this title, or in violation of an order of the transportation board under section 3639b of this title, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $500.00 nor more than $5,000.00.  A person aggrieved by such a violation may recover his or her damages in an action on this statute.

Sec. 58.  23 V.S.A. § 1006 is amended to read:

§ 1006.  STOPPING AT RAILROAD CROSSINGS

The traffic committee may designate particularly dangerous railroad grade crossings, and the agency of transportation shall erect stop signs at each railroad grade crossing designated by the traffic committee.  The expense of erecting these stop signs shall be borne by the agency of transportation.


* * * Bellows Falls Mural * * *

Sec. 59. BELLOWS FALL MURAL

The art deco style mural painted on the side of a building celebrating the town of Bellows Falls located on property at 660 Rockingham Road (U.S. Rt. 5) in Bellows Falls approximately 0.6 miles south of exit 6 of Interstate 91 is not subject to the provisions of 10 V.S.A. Chapter 21.

* * * Effective Dates * * *

Sec. 60.  EFFECTIVE DATES

Secs. 14(2), 20, and 36 of this act shall take effect from passage.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us