|SAME AS||SAME AS S08119|
|COSPNSR||Gantt, Brindisi, Abinanti, Otis, Zebrowski, Skoufis, Santabarbara, Lopez|
|Add §53-f, Rail L; add §131-a, Transp L; amd §236, Hway L; add §135-a, amd §§1170 & 1171, V & T L|
|Relates to railroad safety; requires joint inspection of traffic signals; increases penalties for the failure to comply with regulations; aligns railroad bridge inspection requirements with federal regulations; establishes and increases penalties for failure to obey certain signals and stops.|
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NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A10714 SPONSOR: Rules (Buchwald)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the railroad law, the transportation law, the highway law, and the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to requiring joint inspection of traffic signals, increasing penalties for the failure to comply with regulations, aligning railroad bridge inspection require- ments with federal regulations, establishing and increasing penalties for failure to obey certain signals and stops   PURPOSE OF THE BILL: The purpose of this bill is to provide for greater rail and public safe- ty, efficiency and modernization.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill would set forth the title of the act as "Rail Safety Act of 2016." Section 2 of the bill would add a new Section 53-f to the Railroad Law to require every railroad corporation and every municipality or state agency having jurisdiction of a highway on which there is an at grade crossing to conduct, at a minimum, biennial inspections of any traffic control devices interconnected with a highway-rail at-grade crossing warning system, under the oversight of the New York State Department of Transportation ("DOT"). Section 3 of the bill would add a new section 131-a to the Transporta- tion L. to authorize the Commissioner of Transportation to impose mone- tary penalties for violations of laws and regulations against railroad companies that act as common carriers, and increases fines for railroad companies for similar violations while carrying hazardous materials. Section 4 of the bill would amend Highway L. § 236 to align reporting requirements for railroad bridge inspections conducted by private rail- roads with current federal requirements. Section 5 of the bill would add a new § 135-a to the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) to provide a new definition for "railroad grade crossings" in line with federal definitions. Section 6 of the bill would amend VTL § 1170 to provide penalties for repeat offenders for failing to obey signals indicating the approach of a train, including not stopping within 15 feet of the crossing: up to $500 and/or 45 days of imprisonment for the second offense that occurs within eighteen months of the first; and up to $750 and/or 90 days of imprisonment for a third or subsequent offense all of which occur within eighteen months. It would also increase penalties for repeat offenders for driving through, around, or under any gate or barrier at railroad crossings by providing: up to $750 and/or 90 days of imprisonment for the second offense; and up to $1,000 and/or 180 days of imprisonment for a third or subsequent offense. The look back for repeat offenses would be increased from 18 months to 30 months. Section 7 would amend VTL § 1171 to increase penalties on repeat offen- der operators of certain vehicles, including buses, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, and vehicles with a gross vehicle rating of more than 10,000 pounds, that fail to stop at all railroad grade crossings: up to $500 and/or 45 days of imprisonment for the second offense that occurs within thirty months of the first; and up to $750 and/or 90 days of imprisonment for a third or subsequent offense all of which occur within thirty months. Section 8 of the bill would make it effective immediately, except as to new penalties on railroad companies and motorists, which take effect on December 1, 2016. This section also requires the DOT to coordinate with railroads and municipalities on a public education campaign regarding the new penalties.   EXISTING LAW: There is no definition of "railroad grade crossings" in New York State law. Although the Commissioner of Transportation is authorized to levy penal- ties under Transportation L. § 131 against any common carrier; including common carriers that use trains, trucks, or other means of conveyance, and common carriers that carry goods or passengers, the maximum penalty that may be imposed under Section 131 is only $5,000 for each offense. Inventory and inspection of railroad bridges in New York State are currently governed by NYS Highway Law, The Federal Railroad Adminis- tration (FRA) has adopted its final rule 49 CFR Part 237 requiring rail- road track owners to implement bridge management programs that include annual inspection of railroad bridges. However, state law does not align with the FRA's new requirements. VTL § 1170 does not expressly provide penalties for a failure to obey signals indicating the approach of a train, including not stopping with- in 15 feet of the crossing. Section 1170(b) provides penalties for driv- ing through, around, or under any gate or barrier at railroad crossings: up to $400 and/or 30 days of imprisonment for the first offense; up to $500 and/or 90 days of imprisonment for the second offense that occurs within eighteen months of the first; and up to $750 and/or 180 days of imprisonment for a third or subsequent offense all of which occur within eighteen months. VTL § 1171 does not expressly provide penalties for operators of certain vehicles, including buses, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, and vehicles with a gross vehicle rating of more than 10,000 pounds, that fail to stop at all railroad grade crossings.   STATEMENT IN SUPPORT: In 2014, there were over 250 crossing-collision deaths in the United States. The Federal Railroad Administration's acting administrator, Sarah Feinberg, recently stated that "Ninety-four percent of grade crossing accidents are linked to a driver's behavior." Moreover, grade crossing accidents frequently occur at local grade crossings in the community of a driver: 50% of train-motor vehicle collisions are reported to occur within five miles of the motorist's home; 75% of such collisions occur within 25 miles of a person's home. Existing provisions of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law require motor- ists to observe safe driving behaviors at grade crossings, but law enforcement reports that many motorists fail to follow these critical safety requirements, risking their own safety as well as others. The proposed legislation, by increasing penalties on railroad companies and motorists for operations in violation of the law, will deter repeat offenders from ignoring existing safety requirements, thereby reducing the risk of grade crossing accidents. Moreover, the transportation of hazardous materials by railroad compa- nies through the State of New York also raises significant concerns for public safety, public health, and environmental conservation. The risk has been greatly increased with the transport of crude oil throughout New York. State regulations require entities to report certain railroad incidents within a period of one hour after the event (17 NYCRR § 924.1) in order to facilitate emergency response coordination. By increasing the penalties for failure to comply with regulations, this bill estab- lishes a strong incentive for railroad companies to ensure that inci- dents are reported within the time limits required by regulation. Finally, this legislation will eliminate confusion and unnecessary duplication by aligning state law requirements for railroad bridge inspections with federal law. In addition, a single set of laws to will allow for improved communication between the railroad company and the federal and state governments.   BUDGET IMPLICATIONS: Minimal cost to implement.   LOCAL IMPACT: None noted.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediate, except that the amendments made to sections 3, 6, and 7 of this act shall take effect on December 1, 2016; provided further, that effective immediately, the Commissioner of Transportation is authorized to promulgate any rules or regulations necessary for the implementation of this act, and to coordinate a public education campaign on new penal- ties.
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STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 10714 IN ASSEMBLY June 13, 2016 ___________ Introduced by COMMITTEE ON RULES -- (at request of M. of A. Buchwald, Gantt, Brindisi, Abinanti) -- (at request of the Governor) -- read once and referred to the Committee on Transportation AN ACT to amend the railroad law, the transportation law, the highway law, and the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to requiring joint inspection of traffic signals, increasing penalties for the failure to comply with regulations, aligning railroad bridge inspection require- ments with federal regulations, establishing and increasing penalties for failure to obey certain signals and stops The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem- bly, do enact as follows: 1 Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as 2 the "rail safety act of 2016." 3 § 2. The railroad law is amended by adding a new section 53-f to read 4 as follows: 5 § 53-f. Joint inspection of traffic-control signals interconnected 6 with highway-rail at-grade crossing warning systems. 1. Notwithstanding 7 the provisions of any other law to the contrary, the commissioner is 8 authorized to establish, implement, and exercise oversight over a 9 program to coordinate the inspection of traffic-control signals inter- 10 connected with highway-rail at-grade crossing warning systems. 11 2. Pursuant to the program established under subdivision one of this 12 section, the department of transportation shall establish a procedure 13 applicable to every railroad corporation and each municipality having 14 jurisdiction of a highway on which there is an at-grade rail crossing 15 warning system interconnected with a traffic-control signal for the 16 coordinated operation and biennial inspection of any traffic-control 17 signal interconnected with a highway-rail at-grade crossing warning 18 system. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to alter or impair such 19 railroad corporation's existing responsibility for maintenance of, and 20 access to, the highway-rail at-grade crossing warning system. 21 3. For the purposes of this section, the term "traffic-control signal" 22 shall have the same meaning as such term is defined by section one 23 hundred fifty-four of the vehicle and traffic law. EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD12086-01-6A. 10714 2 1 § 3. The transportation law is amended by adding a new section 131-a 2 to read as follows: 3 § 131-a. Penalties for violations. 1. Any railroad company that oper- 4 ates as a common carrier that violates any provision of article five of 5 this chapter and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto shall, upon 6 direction by the commissioner, be liable for a penalty payable to the 7 people of the state of New York in the amount not to exceed five thou- 8 sand dollars. 9 2. Any railroad company that operates as a common carrier of property 10 that violates any provision of article five of this chapter and regu- 11 lations promulgated pursuant thereto with respect to one or more freight 12 cars required to be placarded by federal hazardous materials regulations 13 shall, upon direction by the commissioner, be liable for a penalty paya- 14 ble to the people of the state of New York in an amount not to exceed 15 fifteen thousand dollars. 16 3. Each violation shall be a separate and distinct offense, and, in 17 case of a continuing violation, every day's continuance thereof shall be 18 a separate and distinct offense. 19 4. Before imposing a penalty set forth in this section, the commis- 20 sioner shall afford the railroad company notice and an opportunity to be 21 heard. In assessing the penalty, the commissioner may consider the 22 following: 23 a. the railroad company's history of violating the law or the regu- 24 lations of the commissioner; 25 b. if the violation arises out of an accident, whether death or seri- 26 ous injury occurred as a result of the accident, whether the accident 27 resulted in an evacuation of the general public for one hour or more, 28 and whether the accident resulted in the closure of a major transporta- 29 tion artery or facility for one hour or more; and 30 c. any other factors the commissioner deems relevant. 31 5. If such penalty is not paid within four months, the amount thereof 32 may be entered as a judgment in the office of the clerk of the county of 33 Albany and in any other county in which the railroad company has a place 34 of business or through which it operates. 35 § 4. Section 236 of the highway law, as amended by chapter 455 of the 36 the laws of 1998, is amended to read as follows: 37 § 236. Program of railroad bridge inspection. 1. Program establish- 38 ment. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the 39 commissioner is authorized and directed to establish, implement and 40 exercise oversight over a program of railroad bridge inspection in 41 conformity with the rail safety improvement act of 2008, subchapter I of 42 chapter 201 of part A of subtitle V of title 49 of the United States 43 code as such law may, from time to time, be amended and part 237 of 44 title 49 of the code of federal regulations as such regulations may, 45 from time to time, be amended, by all railroads as defined herein which 46 shall apply to all railroad bridges whether publicly or privately owned. 47 2. Bridge inventory. [ (a)] Each railroad shall provide to the commis- 48 sioner an inventory of every railroad bridge either owned or used by 49 such railroad whether exclusively or with another railroad or rail- 50 roads[ . Each such inventory shall contain a statement as to the owner-51 ship of all railroad bridges listed thereon and, if not owned by the52 filing railroad, such railroad shall state the circumstances under which53 it is operating over such railroad bridges. With regard to bridges owned54 or maintained by the filing railroad, such inventory may be in the55 format currently maintained by each railroad provided the inventory56 identifies: (i) the owner of the railroad if different from the rail-A. 10714 3 1 road submitting the inventory; (ii) a description of each bridge2 reflecting the condition of the bridge as determined by the latest3 inspection report; and (iii) the maximum load for each of its lines.4 Each inventory submitted shall contain the following administrative data5 with regard to each bridge owned or maintained by the filing railroad:6 the bridge identification number; the railroad bridge number; the rail-7 road line code (if applicable); the railroad mile post; the county; the8 operating railroad or railroads; other features carried (if applicable);9 features intersected description; features intersected code; owner or10 owners; maintenance responsibilities; and inspection responsibilities.11 Each inventory submitted shall also contain the following general data12 with regard to each bridge owned or maintained by the filing railroad:13 the year built; the year rehabilitated; the number of tracks crossing14 the bridge; the type of rail service; the number of spans; and the15 bridge type] as required to be maintained by part 237 of title 49 of the 16 code of federal regulations as such regulations may, from time to time, 17 be amended. 18 [ (b) In any instance in which more than one railroad operates over a19 bridge, the inventory shall identify which railroad has responsibility20 for the inspection and maintenance.] 21 3. Bridge inspection. [ (a) The department shall develop and publish22 railroad bridge inspection standards. Such standards shall be developed23 in consultation with representatives of railroads operating within the24 state and insofar as practicable, shall not be inconsistent with current25 American railway engineering and maintenance of way association recom-26 mended practices.27 (b)] (a) Each railroad shall develop a bridge safety management 28 program and submit to the department written bridge management and 29 inspection procedures[ . Such procedures shall be developed under the30 supervision of a licensed professional engineer, and shall be consistent31 with generally accepted railway engineering standards and procedures for32 railroad bridge inspection and shall be in conformance with the stand-33 ards developed by the department as set forth in paragraph (a) of this34 subdivision. The procedures shall contain a format for the reporting35 document to be submitted to the department. Such reports shall contain36 the qualifications of the individuals performing bridge inspection37 activities] as required to be maintained and developed by part 237 of 38 title 49 of the code of federal regulations as such regulations may, 39 from time to time, be amended. 40 [ (c)] (b) Railroad bridge inspections shall be performed [ by techni-41 cians whose training and experience enable them to detect and record42 indications of distress on a bridge. Inspectors must provide accurate43 measurements and other information about the condition of the bridge in44 sufficient detail to a licensed professional engineer who shall make an45 evaluation of the capacity and safety of the bridge] by railroad bridge 46 inspectors in conformity with part 237 of title 49 of the code of feder- 47 al regulations as such regulations may, from time to time, be amended. 48 The term "railroad bridge inspectors" shall have the same meaning as 49 such term is defined by section 237.53 of title 49 of the code of feder- 50 al regulations as such regulations may, from time to time, be amended. 51 [ (d)] (c) Each railroad shall conduct an inspection of every railroad 52 bridge located in the state for which it has inspection responsibility[ ,53 in accordance with the bridge inventory set forth in subdivision two of54 this section, at least once in each calendar year and following an55 occurrence which the railroad reasonably believes may have reduced the56 capacity of any bridge] consistent with part 237 of title 49 of the codeA. 10714 4 1 of federal regulations as such regulations may, from time to time, be 2 amended. 3 [ (e)] (d) A copy of the inspection report for each railroad bridge 4 shall, consistent with part 237 of title 49 of the code of federal regu- 5 lations as such regulations may, from time to time, be amended, be main- 6 tained by the appropriate railroad for a period [ of not less than five7 years. The reports shall be comprehensible to a competent person without8 interpretation by the reporting inspector] of not less than two years, 9 provided that each copy of an underwater inspection report shall be 10 retained until the completion and review of the next underwater 11 inspection of the bridge. If requested by the department, the railroad 12 shall submit the inspection report within thirty business days to the 13 department. 14 [ (f)] (e) Not later than March fifteenth of each year, a licensed 15 professional engineer or other responsible officer of each railroad 16 shall file a certification that each bridge has been inspected in 17 accordance with [ the bridge management and inspection procedures and18 that every structure is safe for the loading imposed,] part 237 of title 19 49 of the code of federal regulations as such regulations may, from time 20 to time, be amended, and additionally, shall advise the commissioner of 21 any change affecting bridge safety which has occurred since the last 22 certification. 23 [ (g)] (f) If, as a result of an inspection, a bridge is determined to 24 be unsafe, the railroad shall immediately notify the commissioner and 25 shall take appropriate remedial action to ensure that such structure is 26 safe. Upon completion of such remedial action, the railroad shall 27 provide the commissioner with a certification by a licensed professional 28 engineer or other responsible officer that the bridge is now safe for 29 the loadings imposed. If a railroad shall fail to take remedial action, 30 the commissioner may direct the railroad to take appropriate action, 31 including requiring the closing of the bridge. Any order of the commis- 32 sioner shall be reviewable in accordance with article seventy-eight of 33 the civil practice law and rules. 34 [ (h)] (g) For purposes of this section, a "licensed professional engi- 35 neer" shall mean a professional engineer who is authorized to practice 36 engineering under title eight of the education law. 37 4. Powers of the commissioner. The commissioner shall have the power 38 to adopt, promulgate, amend and rescind such rules and regulations, 39 consistent with part 237 of title 49 of the code of federal regulations 40 as such regulations may, from time to time, be amended, as the commis- 41 sioner deems appropriate to carry out the provisions and purposes of 42 this article or to enforce any standards established hereunder. [ All43 existing rules and regulations requiring inspection and certification of44 railroad bridges shall remain in effect until such time as new rules and45 regulations are promulgated.] Additionally the commissioner shall be 46 authorized to review the inspection reports, inventories and other 47 supporting documents, to compel the production of any books, papers, 48 records and documents relevant to the railroad bridge inspection 49 program, and to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and take testimony, 50 and to maintain a civil suit against any public or private entity to 51 compel compliance with the provisions of this chapter. 52 [ 5. Phase in of program. In order to permit the orderly implementation53 of the railroad bridge inspection program, the inventory of railroad54 bridges as herein provided shall be submitted to the commissioner by55 January twenty-ninth, nineteen hundred ninety-seven. All railroad bridg-56 es over which passenger rail service is provided shall be inspected notA. 10714 5 1 later than January first, nineteen hundred ninety-nine, and certif-2 ication submitted to the department not later than March fifteenth,3 nineteen hundred ninety-nine. All other railroad bridges shall be4 inspected and certified not later than July first, nineteen hundred5 ninety-nine.] 6 § 5. The vehicle and traffic law is amended by adding a new section 7 135-a to read as follows: 8 § 135-a. Railroad grade crossing. A location where a public highway or 9 private road, including associated sidewalks, crosses one or more rail- 10 road tracks at grade. 11 § 6. Section 1170 of the vehicle and traffic law, as amended by chap- 12 ter 300 of the laws of 1960, subdivision (b) as amended and subdivisions 13 (c) and (d) as added by chapter 430 of the laws of 1996, is amended to 14 read as follows: 15 § 1170. Obedience to signal indicating approach of train. (a) Whenever 16 any person driving a vehicle approaches a railroad grade crossing under 17 any of the circumstances stated in this section, the driver of such 18 vehicle shall stop not less than fifteen feet from the nearest rail of 19 such railroad, and shall not proceed until he can do so safely. The 20 foregoing requirements shall apply when: 21 1. An audible or clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device 22 gives warning of the immediate approach of a railroad train; 23 2. A crossing gate is lowered or when a human flagman gives or contin- 24 ues to give a signal of the approach or passage of a railroad train; 25 3. A railroad train approaching within approximately one thousand five 26 hundred feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from such 27 distance and such railroad train, by reason of its speed or nearness to 28 such crossing, is an immediate hazard; or 29 4. An approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazard- 30 ous proximity to such crossing. 31 5. Every person convicted of a violation of this subdivision shall for 32 a first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not more than one 33 hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days 34 or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a second 35 violation, both of which were committed within a period of eighteen 36 months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than five 37 hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than forty-five days or 38 by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or 39 subsequent violation, all of which were committed within a period of 40 eighteen months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more 41 than seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than 42 ninety days or by both such fine and imprisonment. 43 (b) No person shall drive any vehicle through, around, or under any 44 crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while such gate or 45 barrier is closed or is being opened or closed. Every person convicted 46 of a violation of this subdivision shall for a first conviction thereof 47 be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor 48 more than four hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than 49 thirty days or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a 50 second violation, both of which were committed within a period of [ eigh-51 teen] thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not less 52 than three hundred fifty dollars nor more than [ five] seven hundred 53 fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days or by 54 both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or subse- 55 quent violation, all of which were committed within a period of [ eigh-56 teen] thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not lessA. 10714 6 1 than six hundred dollars nor more than [ seven hundred fifty] one thou- 2 sand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one hundred eighty 3 days or by both such fine and imprisonment. 4 (c) 1. Any person convicted of a violation of this section while driv- 5 ing any vehicle carrying passengers under eighteen years of age, any bus 6 carrying passengers, any school bus or any vehicle carrying explosive 7 substances or flammable liquids as a cargo or part of a cargo, shall, 8 upon conviction of a first offense, be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, 9 and shall, upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense committed 10 within five years of the prior offense, be guilty of a class E felony. 11 2. Any person convicted of a violation of this section resulting in an 12 accident which causes physical injury, as that term is defined pursuant 13 to subdivision nine of section 10.00 of the penal law, serious physical 14 injury, as that term is defined pursuant to subdivision ten of section 15 10.00 of the penal law, or death to another person, shall be guilty of a 16 class E felony. 17 (d) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit 18 or limit the prosecution of any violation, crime or other offense other- 19 wise required or permitted by law. 20 § 7. Section 1171 of the vehicle and traffic law is amended by adding 21 a new subdivision (f) to read as follows: 22 (f) Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall for a 23 first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not more than one 24 hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days 25 or by both such fine and imprisonment; for a conviction of a second 26 violation, both of which were committed within a period of thirty 27 months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than five 28 hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than forty-five days or 29 by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a conviction of a third or 30 subsequent violation, all of which were committed within a period of 31 thirty months, such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than 32 seven hundred fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety 33 days or by both such fine and imprisonment. 34 § 8. This act shall take effect immediately; provided, that sections 35 three, six and seven of this act shall take effect on December 1, 2016; 36 provided further, that effective immediately, the commissioner of trans- 37 portation is authorized to promulgate any rules or regulations necessary 38 for the implementation of this act; and provided further, that effective 39 immediately, the commissioner of transportation shall coordinate with 40 every railroad corporation, relevant state authority, and municipality 41 having jurisdiction of a highway on which there is an at-grade rail 42 crossing warning system interconnected with a traffic-control signal, to 43 establish a public awareness and education campaign related to the 44 provisions of sections three, six and seven of this act.