The Legislature hereby finds that the continued and future success of the coal industry is greatly dependent upon a quality network of roads and highways. Critical market forces make it imperative for such a road system to be constructed and maintained. It is the responsibility of the state and all industry to form a partnership to accomplish this goal. "Industrial roads," for the purposes of this article, may be construed to include a single bridge or combination of bridges.
(a) "Company" means an individual, partnership or corporation licensed under the laws of the state of West Virginia and engaged in any industrial business.
(b) "Industrial road" means a public road of ten miles or less in length which is vital to transporting of coal, or a road, which upon the designation of the commissioner, is determined to be vital to one or more companies.
(c) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the department of highways.
(d) "Cost" means all funds needed to do engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction or upgrading. Upgrading does not mean normal routine maintenance.
(e) "Department" means the department of highways.
(f) "Upgrading" means any work on a highway or bridge which is not routine maintenance.
Any company may apply to the commissioner to have a certain road designated an industrial road. The commissioner shall develop an application form. In such application the company shall agree to pay to the department one half of the amount of money needed to bring such road up to the standards needed to become an industrial road. All construction or upgrading to be performed under this article shall be bid out to an independent contractor in such a manner as prescribed in this code. Upon approval of the application by the commissioner the company shall transfer to a special revenue account for the department of highways in the state treasury as set forth in this article a sum equal to one half of costs needed to upgrade or construct the road to standard or the company shall deliver to the commissioner an irrevocable letter of credit drawn on a bank chartered by the state of West Virginia or the federal government in an amount equal to such cost: Provided, That the company shall transfer the moneys before any construction or upgrading is contracted for.
The department shall then begin the process as outlined in this code to upgrade or construct such public road.
The commissioner shall promulgate rules establishing a program for designating industrial public roads in the state. The criteria for such designation shall include:
(a) The economic impact of such road on the coal or other companies which use such public road;
(b) The impact on the citizens which use the road in their daily business; and
(c) The cost of any improvements which would be necessary to bring the road up to standard versus the benefits.
The commissioner shall publicize the program and allow any company to make such application.
The commissioner shall establish standards for construction and upgrading of industrial roads. In the design of these standards, he shall consult with representatives or organizations which represent companies. The standards shall provide for:
(a) Each road to be at least sixteen feet in width in addition to any berms or shoulders;
(b) Design and construction to handle the weight of coal and other industrial trucks and equipment as transported by the companies;
(c) Giving the citizens of the area a better road to travel;
(d) Having adequate drainage; and
(e) Any other feature which the commissioner determines is necessary to carry out the goals of this article.
There shall be created in the state treasury a special revenue fund to be known as the "Industrial Road Construction Fund." The fund shall receive all funds contributed by companies for the construction of approved roads. Only moneys needed to pay the costs of the roads shall be withdrawn, however, the commissioner may use any moneys generated by any earned interest to offset his administrative costs in administering this article.
In addition to all other powers conferred upon the commissioner under other provisions of this code, the commissioner shall have all powers necessary to carry out the construction, planning or development of any industrial road provided for by this article.
This article shall expire on the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred ninety-two, unless reauthorized by the Legislature of the state of West Virginia: Provided, That if the governor feels the continuation of this article, before the above mentioned date, would cause a hardship, he may cancel the program. However, any project which is approved by the commissioner shall be completed.
The commissioner shall have the authority to promulgate rules to effectuate this article.
The provisions of this article are severable and if any of its provisions shall be held unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not impair the remaining provisions of this article. This article shall be construed liberally.