CROSSINGS, STATIONS, FENCES, CATTLE GUARDS, BRIDGES, AND BRIDGE GUARDS
General Statement of Duty
It shall be the duty of every railroad to provide suitable crossings, stations and other facilities for the accommodation of the public, and suitable gates, crossings, cattle passes and other facilities for the accommodation of persons whose lands are divided, or are separated from a highway, by a railroad.
Source. RS 142:4. 1852, 1232:1. CS 150:35, 45. GS 147:1. GL 161:1. PS 159:1. PL 249:1. RL 299:1. 1951, 203:58 par. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
373:1-a State-Owned Rail Lines.
I. In instances where the state has acquired rail properties, the state shall have the same duty as under RSA 373:1 to provide suitable crossings and other facilities for the accommodation of the public and to provide suitable gates, crossings and other facilities for the accommodation of persons whose lands are divided, or are separated from a highway, by the state-owned railway.
II. Any party or landowner seeking crossing or other facilities pursuant to paragraph I shall make application for such crossing or other facility to the department of transportation.
III. The commissioner shall adopt rules, under RSA 541-A, establishing procedures and criteria for review of such applications and issuance of agreements for crossings and other facilities on state-owned rail property, including establishment of reasonable application and annual renewal fees.
IV. Such agreements shall include provision for apportionment of costs for construction and protection including insurance requirements and installation of appropriate safety devices.
V. The state shall provide such warning signs as are required for governmental authorities maintaining public crossings over state-owned railroad lines pursuant to RSA 373:11.
Source. 1993, 116:4. 1996, 77:2, eff. July 12, 1996.
Overhead Bridges and Underpasses
Upon petition of a railroad, the selectmen of a town, or the mayor and council of a city, the department of transportation, after notice and hearing, may require a railroad (a) to separate the grades where a highway and railroad cross at grade or where a railroad crosses another railroad at grade, (b) to change the location of a highway or a railroad in order to avoid or improve a grade crossing or (c) to reconstruct or otherwise alter or improve any existing bridge or underpass and the approaches thereto in instances where separation of grades has been effected, or (d) to improve the approaches to any grade crossing so as to make them as nearly level as practicable where any such action is found necessary in the interest of safety to the railroad or the public. At any such hearing, the director of the division of motor vehicles shall sit and confer with the department of transportation in an advisory capacity in the determination of the necessity for such reconstruction and the apportionment of the cost of the same.
Source. 1937, 123:1. RL 299:2, 3. 1951, 203:58 par. 2. RSA 373:2. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:3 Apportionment of Costs.
Any order issued under RSA 373:2 shall provide for the apportionment of the cost (1) between the railroads in interest if the crossing eliminated or improved is a railroad crossing or (2) between the railroad and the state if such crossing is located at the intersection of a railroad and a state highway, trunk line or state-aided highway, or (3) between the railroad and the municipality if such crossing is located at the intersection of a railroad and a highway other than those above specified. In making such apportionment, the department of transportation shall give due consideration to whether the railroad or the highway was first constructed, to the nature and volume of highway traffic, to the number of trains operated by the railroad at the crossing, and all other relevant facts and circumstances. After such reconstruction, the abutments and superstructure of the bridge or underpass shall be maintained by the railroad; but the department of transportation may direct that the wearing surface of a highway at the crossing be maintained by the state or by the town or city whenever it finds that justice so requires.
Source. 1937, 123:1. RL 299:4. 1951, 203:58 par. 3. RSA 373:3. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:4 Consent of Department of Transportation.
No railroad hereafter constructed shall cross another railroad, a highway or other way, at grade, unless the consent in writing of the department of transportation is first obtained.
Source. 1885, 98:5, 6. 1889, 65:1. PS 159:2. PL 249:2. RL 299:5. 1951, 203:58 par. 4. RSA 373:4. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:5 Neglect to Obtain.
If a railroad shall neglect to comply with the requirements of RSA 373:4, the department of transportation may subsequently approve the crossing made by the railroad, or may order it to make such changes therein as the public good requires. If the railroad shall fail to comply with such order, it shall be guilty of a felony.
Source. PS 159:3. PL 249:3. RL 299:6. 1951, 203:58 par. 5. RSA 373:5. 1973, 529:88. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:6 New Highways.
No highway shall be laid out or constructed across a railroad at grade without the like consent of the department of transportation.
Source. 1895, 91:1. PL 249:4. RL 299:7. 1951, 203:58 par. 6. RSA 373:6. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:6-a Private Crossings Used by Public.
Whenever it shall appear, after notice and hearing held by the department of transportation upon its own motion or upon petition of any interested party, that an existing grade crossing is being used as a public highway and the adjacent approach or approaches thereto are maintained for use in a manner similar to a public highway, the department of transportation may require the same to be laid out, constructed and protected, and the costs thereof apportioned in accordance with the provisions of this chapter provided that the railroad shall not be charged with any of the said costs.
Source. 1963, 54:1. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:6-b Utility Crossings.
No railroad shall charge any municipality a fee for the privilege of constructing and laying water or sewer lines under existing railroad tracks, provided all construction and excavation costs shall be borne by the municipality. The municipality shall be obligated to rebuild the railroad track support to a condition at least as structurally strong and sound as its condition prior to the sewer or water line construction.
Source. 1978, 54:1, eff. Sept. 24, 1978.
In the event that a new railroad or highway is located or laid across an existing railroad or highway, the cost of construction and maintenance shall be apportioned between the parties in interest in accordance with the principles set forth in RSA 373:3.
Source. 1895, 91:1. PL 249:5. RL 299:8. 1951, 203:58 par. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
Either party shall have the right to appeal from the decision of the commissioner to the superior court.
Source. 1895, 91:1. PL 249:9. RL 299:9. 1951, 203:58 par. 8. RSA 373:8. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:9 Taking Land.
The railroad may take and hold such land or rights in land as may be necessary to enable it to do such work as may be authorized or required by order of the department of transportation under this chapter by filing a location thereof, as provided for filing the location of a railroad; and the parties shall have like remedies for a change of location and for the appraisal of damages thereunder.
Source. 1951, 203:58 par. 9. RSA 373:9. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:10 Railroad Signs, Gates and Other Protection.
Every railroad shall construct, or improve, and operate and maintain at every grade crossing of its railroad with another railroad or highway such warning signs, gates or other protection; it shall so regulate the speed of its trains across any grade crossing and it shall give such appropriate warning of the approach of its trains to any grade crossing as the department of transportation, after notice and hearing, may find necessary in the interest of safety of the railroad or of the public; provided, however, that cost of constructing or improving such warning signs, gates or other protection shall be apportioned in accordance with the provisions of RSA 373:3. The railroad shall maintain signs, signals, gates or other equipment installed within the limits of its right of way, after the installation thereof.
Source. 1885, 98:1, 3. PS 159:4. PL 249:13. RL 299:16. 1951, 203:58 par. 10. RSA 373:10. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:11 Warning Signs.
The governmental authority responsible for maintaining a highway shall place and maintain warning signs on every highway approaching a crossing at grade of such highway and the tracks of a railroad, at a reasonable distance on each side of such crossing. The department of transportation shall prescribe the standards for warning signs for highway grade crossings. If any governmental authority, except the state, shall neglect to comply with the requirements hereof it shall forfeit $1 for each day during which it shall neglect to place or maintain each sign required hereby to be placed or maintained by it, such forfeiture to be recovered in an action of debt, in the name and for the use of the state.
Source. 1915, 4:1. PL 249:15. RL 299:18. 1951, 203:58 par. 11. RSA 373:11. 1977, 41:1. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:12 Repealed by 1977, 41:3, eff. June 10, 1977.
If in the case of any crossing it appears that the placing of such signs is impracticable or unnecessary, the department of transportation, on petition of the governmental authority responsible for maintaining the highway on which such crossing is situated, may release such governmental authority from the obligation of placing and maintaining the same.
Source. 1915, 4:3. PL 249:17. RL 299:20. 1951, 203:58 par. 13. RSA 373:13. 1977, 41:2. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:14 Repealed by 1977, 41:4, eff. June 10, 1977.
373:15 Occupancy of Crossing by Engines or Cars.
A railroad shall not occupy a grade crossing over a highway by its engines and cars more than 5 minutes at one time without authority from the department of transportation.
Source. 1850, 965:2, 3, 4. 1852, 1302:1. CS 150:49, 52. GS 148:7. GL 162:7. 1883, 26:1, 2. 1885, 98:6. 1889, 65:1; 90:2. PS 159:8. PL 249:27. RL 299:29. 1951, 203:58 par. 15. RSA 373:15. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:16 Exceptions to 5 Minute Occupations.
I. The department of transportation, upon petition, notice and hearing, may fix the maximum time for the occupancy of a railroad on a grade crossing over a highway. The maximum time shall not exceed 9 minutes.
II. The commissioner may adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to the time of maximum occupancy of a grade crossing.
Source. 1883, 26:1, 2. 1885, 98:6. 1889, 65:1; 90:2. PS 159:8. PL 249:28. RL 299:30. 1951, 203:58 par. 16. RSA 373:16. 1981, 435:7. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
Any person who violates the provisions of any of the preceding sections, or of any order of the department of transportation made hereunder, shall be guilty of a violation if a natural person, or guilty of a misdemeanor if any other person, unless otherwise specifically provided.
Source. 1850, 965:2, 3, 4. CS 150:51. GS 148:5, 7. 1883, 26:1, 2. GL 162:5, 7. PS 159:9. PL 249:29. RL 299:31. 1951, 203:58 par. 17. RSA 373:17. 1973, 530:54. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:18 Removal of Obstructions to View.
Whenever, after a hearing upon petition or upon its own motion, the department of transportation shall be of the opinion that the protection required by its order demands that the land adjacent to said crossing shall be cleared and kept clear of buildings, trees, brush or other obstructions, its order shall require the railroad corporation operating over the crossing to clear the land of such obstructions.
Source. 1951, 203:58 par. 18. RSA 373:18. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:19 Taking Land.
Whenever any railroad shall deem it necessary for the public safety, or to prevent the kindling and spread of fire from its locomotives, that the land at or near any highway or private crossing at grade, or upon the inside of any curve, be cleared and kept clear of buildings, trees, brush or other obstructions, or that a strip of land alongside its right of way be cleared and kept clear of trees, brush or other vegetation as a fire strip, or whenever, to comply with any order made under RSA 373:18 it shall be necessary for any railroad to remove buildings, trees, brush or other obstructions from land not owned by it, any such railroad may file a location with the secretary of state and apply by petition to the department of transportation for permission to take such land, or such rights and easements in land, as may be needed for such purposes.
Source. 1951, 203:58 par. 19. RSA 373:19. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
Such petition shall set forth the title of the land involved, a description of the land, or of the rights and easements, and the purpose for which required, and proceedings shall thereafter be had as provided in RSA 372.
Source. 1951, 203:58 par. 20, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
373:21 Recording Petition.
At any time after the filing of a petition under RSA 373:19, the petitioner may record in the registry of deeds for the county where the land lies a certified copy of said petition, and no sale, lease, or other transfer of said land made after such record shall affect the proceedings, nor the title of said petitioner to any land, rights, or easements which may be granted therein; but any person acquiring the title of any landowner may, on his motion, be substituted in place of said landowner as a party to said proceedings wherever the same may be pending.
Source. 1951, 203:58 par. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
Closing of Highway Crossings
373:22 Department of Transportation Hearing.
Whenever, after hearing upon petition or upon its own motion, the department of transportation shall be of the opinion that the public safety requires the closing of any public or private crossing over a railroad, at grade or above or below such railroad, it shall order the same to be closed or shall make such order as in its opinion the public good may require, and it shall thereafter be the duty of the parties affected to comply therewith.
Source. 1935, 110:1. RL 299:39. 1951, 203:58 par. 22. RSA 373:22. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:23 Advisory Group.
At any such hearing, the director of the division of motor vehicles and one representative chosen by the selectmen of each town directly served by such crossing shall be invited to sit and confer with the department of transportation in an advisory capacity in the determination of the need for such crossing.
Source. 1935, 110:2. RL 299:40. 1951, 203:58 par. 23. RSA 373:23. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:24 Service of Orders.
In the case of a private crossing, such order shall be served upon the railroad and the landowner affected, or his legal representative. In the case of public crossings, service shall be made upon the railroad, the clerk or clerks of the towns directly served by such crossing, and, in addition, the order shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation throughout the county where such crossing is located.
Source. 1935, 110:3. RL 299:41. 1951, 203:58 par. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
Any landowner, or his legal representative, entitled to damages by reason of the closing of any private crossing may file a petition with the department of transportation for the assessment of the same within 30 days from the date of such order, and not otherwise. The department of transportation shall set a date and place of hearing, shall give notice to the parties that may be affected, and shall hear and determine the issues raised. Damages, if any, shall be assessed against the railroad or the other interested parties in such proportion as said department of transportation shall order.
Source. 1935, 110:4. RL 299:42. 1951, 203:58 par. 25. RSA 373:25. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
Any party aggrieved by the assessment of the department of transportation may, within 60 days after the report of the department of transportation thereon and not afterwards, appeal to the superior court in the county where such crossing may be situated, and the court shall assess the same by jury and award costs to the prevailing party.
Source. 1935, 110:5. RL 299:43. 1951, 203:58 par. 26. RSA 373:26. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as altering the method of discontinuing highways now provided for by law wherein a crossing may be discontinued incidental to the closing of a highway.
Source. 1935, 110:6. RL 299:44. 1951, 203:58 par. 27, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
Stopping Places and Depots
373:28 Order to Establish.
The department of transportation, upon petition of the selectmen or of 20 or more legal voters of a town, after notice and hearing, may order a railroad to establish such stopping places or depots in the town as it finds that the public good requires, within a time by it limited, and to stop trains at such stopping places or depots.
Source. 1850, 953:6. CS 150:61. GS 147:14. GL 161:14. PS 159:21. PL 249:37. RL 299:45. 1951, 203:58 par. 28. RSA 373:28. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
A railroad shall forfeit $100 for each month's neglect to comply with such order, for the use of the town.
Source. 1850, 953:6. CS 150:61. GS 147:15. GL 161:15. PS 159:22. PL 249:38. RL 299:46. 1951, 203:58 par. 29, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
Fences and Cattle Guards
Every railroad shall erect and maintain a sufficient fence upon each side of their road, except at the crossings of public highways; and, at every such crossing, they shall construct and maintain, upon each side of the highway, sufficient cattle guards or fences to prevent cattle from passing upon their road.
Source. RS 146:6. CS 150:46. GS 148:1. 1868, 1:43. GL 162:1. PS 159:23. PL 249:39. RL 299:47. 1951, 203:58 par. 30, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
373:31 By Landowner.
If any railroad shall neglect to erect or maintain fences, as provided in RSA 373:30, the owner of adjoining land may give notice thereof to any agent of the railroad; and, if the fence is not erected or made sufficient within 20 days, such owner may build or repair it and recover of the railroad twice the expense of so doing in an action on the case.
Source. RS 146:6. CS 150:46. GS 148:2. GL 162:2. PS 159:24. PL 249:40. RL 299:48. 1951, 203:58 par. 31, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
373:32 Neglect to Repair.
If any person has agreed to repair or maintain such fence and neglects to do so, the railroad may rebuild the same and recover the expense of so doing of such person in an action on the case.
Source. RS 146:7. CS 150:47. GS 148:3. GL 162:3. PS 159:25. PL 249:41. RL 299:49. 1951, 203:58 par. 32, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
Cattle Guards, Etc., for Accommodation of Individuals
If the owner of land and a railroad are not agreed upon the place, number or kind of cattle guards, passes or crossings to be constructed for his accommodation, either party may apply to the department of transportation, which, after notice, hearing and examination, shall determine the number, places, time and manner of construction of the same.
Source. 1850, 953:5. CS 150:45. GS 147:16. GL 161:16. 1889, 54:1. PS 159:19. PL 249:42. RL 299:50. 1951, 203:58 par. 33. RSA 373:33. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:34 Failure to Construct.
If the railroad does not construct such cattle guards, passes and crossings within the times limited by the department of transportation, and does not pay the costs adjudged to be paid by it, upon request, it shall be guilty of a violation for each month's neglect.
Source. 1853, 1416:1. GS 147:17. GL 161:17. 1889, 54:1. PS 159:20. PL 249:43. RL 299:51. 1951, 203:58 par. 34. RSA 373:34. 1973, 531:111. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
Bridges and Bridge Guards
373:35 Alterations; Taking Land.
The department of transportation may require the railroad to raise any railroad bridge or any overhead highway bridge and, in the case of a highway bridge, to change the approaches thereto so as to make them as nearly level as practicable. Whenever it is necessary, in complying with such requirement of the department of transportation to raise or lower or otherwise change the location of a highway outside the railroad location, any land needed for that purpose shall be taken, and the damage, if any, to landowners shall be appraised and paid in the manner described in RSA 372.
Source. 1893, 39:1. PL 249:44, 45. RL 299:52, 53. 1951, 203:58 par. 35. RSA 373:35. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
Proceedings under this subdivision shall only be had after due notice to the railroad, the town or city and the landowners.
Source. 1893, 39:1. PL 249:47. RL 299:55. 1951, 203:58 par. 36, eff. Sept. 1, 1951.
All orders and findings of the department of transportation shall be filed with the clerk of the town or city in which such bridge is located, and served upon the railroad.
Source. 1893, 39:1. PL 249:48. RL 299:56. 1951, 203:58 par. 37. RSA 373:37. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:38 Neglect to Comply.
Neglect by any railroad to comply with the orders of the department of transportation, within a reasonable time to be specified in such orders, shall be punished by a forfeiture of $50 a day, to be collected by the department of transportation, in the name and for the use of the state, in an action of debt.
Source. 1893, 39:3. PL 249:49. RL 299:57. 1951, 203:58 par. 38. RSA 373:38. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:39 Clearance of Bridges or Other Overhead Structures; Height of Cars.
No overhead bridge or other structure shall hereafter be constructed across a railroad track in this state with less than 22 feet between the top of the rails and the lowest point of the overhead structure, except with the written consent of the department of transportation, and no railroad corporation shall receive or haul any freight car exceeding 16 feet in height from the rails to the top of the running board.
Source. 1893, 39:2. PL 249:50. RL 299:58. 1951, 203:58 par. 39. RSA 373:39. 1957, 58:1. 1985, 402:6, I(e)(5).
373:40 Repealed by 1989, 52:1, I, eff. June 18, 1989.
373:41 Repealed by 1989, 52:1, II, eff. June 18, 1989.
373:42 Repealed by 1989, 52:1, III, eff. June 18, 1989.