§ 39-8-4.1. Removal of debris from railroad rights-of-way, switching devices and railroad yards.
(a)(1) A railroad corporation shall maintain and keep clear of debris in any railroad yard under its supervision or control, which is used for storing railroad cars or locomotives, a distance of nine feet (9') on either side of the center line of any track in any yard. Additionally, every railroad corporation shall maintain and keep clear of debris around any switch under its supervision or control, whether or not located in any such yard, a distance of nine feet (9') on either side of the center line of any tracks wherein any switch is located, and a distance of nine feet (9') in any direction from any switching device. The action shall not cause stoppage of through freight or passenger service. Additionally, every railroad corporation shall maintain and keep clear of debris from within the limits of any right-of-way owned by or under the control of the corporation.
(2) For purposes of this section, "debris" means railroad material and equipment, including, but not limited to, brake shoes, air hoses, steel couplers, draw bars and knuckles, broken or fragmented components of railroad cars or locomotives, railroad ties or portions thereof, spilled cargo and their containers as well as any garbage, discarded bottles or other containers, wastepaper or similar refuse which is present on any right-of-way or within the vicinity of any switching device or railroad yard in a quantity that can reasonably be expected to threaten life or health.
(b)(1) Upon the filing by a recognized railroad labor representative, as defined by the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., of a written verified complaint with the public utilities commission, on a form prescribed by the department, designating the nature of the debris and the particular area or location where any of the debris is or has existed for a period of at least seventy-two (72) hours, the public utilities commission shall, ten (10) days after notification to the superintendent of the division responsible for the yard or having jurisdiction over the complained of area or switch, inspect the yard or switch area within seven (7) days, to ascertain the veracity of the complaint. If, after notice to the railroad corporation, and an opportunity for a hearing conducted in accordance with the provisions of this title, the public utilities commission determines the validity of the complaint, it shall issue orders within twenty-four (24) hours, to the superintendent of the division responsible for the yard or having jurisdiction over the complained of area or switch listed in the complaint, directing the debris to be cleared within a reasonable period of time and in such manner as prescribed in the order. Failure to remove or clear the debris shall permit the public utilities commission to issue orders to the designated railroad official in charge of the yard or having jurisdiction over the complained-of area or switch to take the track or tracks or switch out of service until the orders have been complied with by the railroad corporation; provided the action shall not affect freight or passenger service, or in the alternative, assess a penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per day until the order is complied with.
(2) Additionally, the public utilities commission, upon having reasonable cause to believe that a railroad corporation which owns or controls a right-of-way in this state is not complying with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section with respect to rights-of-way, shall conduct an investigation to determine whether a dangerous or unhealthy condition exists on an affected right-of-way. If the public utilities commission determines that a dangerous or unhealthy condition exists on an affected right-of-way, the commission shall send notice, by certified mail, to the local agent of the railroad corporation describing the condition and location of the right-of-way. The railroad company shall correct the condition not later than ten (10) days from the date the notice was mailed, otherwise the public utilities commission shall assess a penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per day until the condition is rectified.
(c) The public utilities commission may adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of this title to carry out the provisions of this section.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 565, § 1.)