This article shall be known and cited as the "West Virginia State Rail Authority Act."
The Legislature finds and hereby declares that this responsibility of the state cannot be effectively met without the establishment, funding, construction, reconstruction, acquisition, repair, replacement, operation and maintenance of railroads and railroad projects.
As used in this article unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:
(1) "Authority" means the West Virginia State Rail Authority created by this article, the duties, powers, responsibilities and functions of which are specified in this article.
(2) "Bond" or " state rail authority bond" means a revenue bond or rate issued by the State Rail Authority to effectuate the intents and purposes of this article.
(3) "Commuter rail" means a transit mode that is an electric or diesel propelled railway for urban passenger train service consisting of local short distance travel operating between a central city and adjacent suburbs. Service must be operated on a regular basis by or under contract with a transit operator for the purpose of transporting passengers within urbanized areas or between urbanized areas and outlying areas. The rail service, using either locomotive-hauled or self-propelled railroad passenger cars, is generally characterized by multitrip tickets, specific station-to-station fares or railroad employment practices and usually has only one or two stations in the central business district. It does not include heavy rail rapid transit or light rail/streetcar transit service. Intercity rail service is excluded except for that portion of service operated by or under contract with a public transit agency for predominantly commuter services. Only the predominantly commuter service portion of an intercity route is eligible for inclusion when determining commuter rail route miles.
(4) "Heavy rail" means a transit mode that is an electric railway with the capacity for a heavy volume of traffic. It is characterized by high speed and rapid acceleration passenger rail cars operating singly or in multicar trains on fixed rails, separate rights-of-way from which all other vehicular and foot traffic are excluded, sophisticated signaling and high platform loading.
(5) "Income" means and includes all money accruing to the authority from any source.
(6) "Light rail" means a transit mode that typically is an electric railway with a light volume traffic capacity compared to heavy rail. It is characterized by passenger rail cars operating singly or in short, usually two-car, trains, on fixed rails in shared or exclusive rights-of-way, low- or high-platform loading and vehicle power drawn from an overhead electric line via a trolley or a pantograph.
(7) "Owner" means and includes all individuals, copartnerships, associations, corporations, companies, transportation companies, public service corporations, the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof, common carriers by rail and railroad companies having any title or interest in any rail properties authorized to be acquired, leased or used by this article.
(8) "Person" means individuals, corporations, partnerships or foreign and domestic associations, including railroads.
(9) "Predominantly commuter services" means that for any given trip segment (i.e., distance between two stations), more than fifty percent of the average daily ridership travels on the train at least three times a week.
(10) "Rail properties" means assets or rights owned, leased or otherwise controlled by a railroad or other person which are used, or useful, in rail transportation service: Provided, That rail properties does not include any properties owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by a railroad not in reorganization, unless it consents to such properties' inclusion in the particular transaction.
(11) "Rail service" means both freight and passenger service.
(12) "Railroad" means a common carrier by railroad as defined in section 1(3) of Part I of the Interstate Commerce Act (49 U. S. C. (1) 3).
(13) "Railroad project" means the initiation, acquisition, construction, maintenance, repair, equipping or operation of rail properties or rail service, or the provisions of loans or grants to or with government agencies, or to persons for such purposes, by the authority.
(b) The authority shall consist of seven members. The secretary of the department of transportation shall be chairman: Provided, That the secretary may appoint a designee to act in his or her stead at meetings of the authority. The other six members shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term of six years. Of the members of the authority first appointed, two shall be appointed for a term ending on the thirtieth day of June, one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven, two shall be appointed for a term ending two years thereafter and two shall be appointed for a term ending four years thereafter. A person appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which his predecessor was appointed shall be appointed only for the remainder of such term. Each authority member shall serve until the appointment and qualification of his successor. No more than three of the appointed authority members shall at any one time belong to the same political party. Appointed authority members may be reappointed to serve additional terms.
(c) All members of the authority shall be citizens of the state. Each appointed member of the board, before entering upon his duties, shall comply with the requirements of article one, chapter six of this code and give bond in the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars in the manner provided in article two, chapter six of this code. The governor may remove any authority member as provided in section four, article six, chapter six of this code.
(d) Annually the authority shall elect one of its members as vice chairman, and shall appoint a secretary-treasurer, who need not be a member of the authority. Four members of the authority shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of four members shall be necessary for any action taken by vote of the authority. No vacancy in the membership of the authority shall impair the rights of a quorum by such vote to exercise all the rights and perform all the duties of the authority. The person appointed as secretary-treasurer, including an authority member if he is so appointed, shall give bond in the sum of fifty thousand dollars in the manner provided in article two, chapter six of this code.
(e) The secretary of the department of transportation shall not receive any compensation for serving as the authority chairman. Each of the six appointed members of the authority shall receive the same compensation and expense reimbursement as is paid to members of the Legislature for their interim duties as recommended by the citizens legislative compensation commission and authorized by law for each day or substantial portion thereof engaged in the discharge of official duties. All such compensation and expenses incurred shall be payable solely from funds of the authority or from funds appropriated for such purpose by the Legislature and no liability or obligation shall be incurred by the authority beyond the extent to which moneys are available from funds of the authority or from such appropriations.
(f) There shall also be a director of the authority appointed by the authority, with the consent of the secretary.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this code to the contrary, the salary of the Executive Director of the State Rail Authority shall be set by the authority: Provided, That the salary set by the State Rail Authority for the Executive Director may not be less than $60,000 and not more than $70,000 per year.
The West Virginia State Rail Authority is hereby granted, has and may exercise all powers necessary or appropriate to carry out and effectuate its corporate purpose.
(a) The authority may:
(1) Adopt and, from time to time, amend and repeal bylaws necessary and proper for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business and propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three of this chapter to implement and make effective its powers and duties.
(2) Adopt an official seal.
(3) Maintain a principal office and, if necessary, regional suboffices at locations properly designated or provided.
(4) Sue and be sued in its own name and plead and be impleaded in its own name and particularly to enforce the obligations and covenants made under sections ten, eleven and sixteen of this article. Any actions against the authority shall be brought in the circuit court of Kanawha County. The location of the principal office of the authority shall be determined by the Governor.
(5) Make loans and grants to governmental agencies and persons for carrying out railroad projects by any governmental agency or person and, in accordance with chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, propose rules for legislative approval and procedures for making such loans and grants.
(6) Acquire, construct, reconstruct, enlarge, improve, furnish, equip, maintain, repair, operate, lease or rent to or contract for operation by a governmental agency or person, railroad projects and, in accordance with chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, propose legislative rules for the use of these projects.
(7) Make available the use or services of any railroad project to one or more persons, one or more governmental agencies or any combination thereof.
(8) Issue State Rail Authority bonds and notes and refunding bonds of the state, payable solely from revenues as provided in section ten of this article unless the bonds are refunded by refunding bonds for the purpose of paying any part of the cost of one or more railroad projects or parts thereof.
(9) Acquire, by gift or purchase, hold and dispose of real and personal property in the exercise of its powers and the performance of its duties as set forth in this article.
(10) Acquire in the name of the state, by purchase or otherwise, on terms and in the manner it considers proper, or by the exercise of the right of eminent domain in the manner provided in chapter fifty-four of this code, rail properties and appurtenant rights and interests necessary for carrying out railroad projects.
(11) (A) Make and enter into all contracts and agreements and execute all instruments necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the execution of its powers including, but not limited to, the power to make contracts and agreements in accordance with the provisions set forth in paragraph (B) of this subdivision.
(B) Make and enter into contracts and agreements to acquire rolling stock or equipment with a value of $500,000 or less exempt from the provisions of article three, chapter five-a of this code.
The authority shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code which set forth the methods for determining value of rolling stock or equipment to be purchased in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (B) of this subdivision.
(C) Where rolling stock, equipment or trackage of the authority is in need of immediate maintenance, repair or reconstruction in order to avoid a cessation of its operations, economic loss, the inability to provide essential service to customers or danger to authority personnel or the public, the following requirements and procedures for entering into the contract or agreement to remedy the condition shall be in lieu of those provided in article three, chapter five-a of this code or any legislative rule promulgated pursuant thereto:
(i) If the cost under the contract or agreement involves an expenditure of more than $1,000, but $10,000 or less, the authority shall award the contract to or enter into the agreement with the lowest responsible bidder based upon at least three oral bids made pursuant to the requirements of the contract or agreement.
(ii) If the cost under the contract or agreement, other than one for compensation for personal services, involves an expenditure of more than $10,000, but $100,000 or less, the authority shall award the contract to or enter into the agreement with the lowest responsible bidder based upon at least three bids, submitted to the authority in writing on letterhead stationery, made pursuant to the requirements of the contract or agreement.
(D) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, a contract or lease for the operation of a railroad project constructed and owned by the authority or an agreement for cooperation in the acquisition or construction of a railroad project pursuant to section sixteen of this article is not subject to the provisions of article three, chapter five-a of this code or any legislative rule promulgated pursuant thereto and the authority may enter into the contract or lease or the agreement pursuant to negotiation and upon such terms and conditions and for a period of time as it finds to be reasonable and proper under the circumstances and in the best interests of proper operation or of efficient acquisition or construction of the railroad project.
(E) The authority may reject any and all bids. A bond with good and sufficient surety, approved by the authority, is required of all contractors in an amount equal to at least fifty percent of the contract price, conditioned upon the faithful performance of the contract.
(12) Appoint a director and employ managers, superintendents and other employees and retain or contract with consulting engineers, financial consultants, accountants, attorneys and other consultants and independent contractors as are necessary in its judgment to carry out the provisions of this article and fix the compensation or fees thereof. All expenses thereof are payable from the proceeds of State Rail Authority revenue bonds or notes issued by the authority, from revenues and funds appropriated for this purpose by the Legislature or from grants from the federal government which may be used for such purpose.
(13) Receive and accept from any state or federal agency grants for or in aid of the construction of any railroad project or for research and development with respect to railroads and receive and accept aid or contributions from any source of money, property, labor or other things of value, to be held, used and applied only for the purposes for which the grants and contributions are made.
(14) Engage in research and development with respect to railroads.
(15) Purchase fire and extended coverage and liability insurance for any railroad project and for the principal office and suboffices of the authority, insurance protecting the authority and its officers and employees against liability, if any, for damage to property or injury to or death of persons arising from its operations and be a member of, and to participate in, the state workers' compensation program.
(16) Charge, alter and collect rates, rentals and other charges for the use or services of any railroad project as provided in this article.
(17) Do all acts necessary and proper to carry out the powers expressly granted to the authority in this article.
(b) In addition, the authority has the power to:
(1) Acquire rail properties both within and not within the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission and rail properties within the purview of the federal Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, any amendments to it and any other relevant federal legislation.
(2) Enter into agreements with owners of rail properties for the acquisition of rail properties or use, or both, of rail properties upon the terms, conditions, rates or rentals that can best effectuate the purposes of this article.
(3) Acquire rail properties and other property of a railroad in concert with another state or states as is necessary to ensure continued rail service in this state.
(4) Administer and coordinate the state plan.
(5) Provide in the state plan for the equitable distribution of federal rail service continuation subsidies among state, local and regional transportation authorities.
(6) Promote, supervise and support safe, adequate and efficient rail services.
(7) Employ sufficiently trained and qualified personnel for these purposes.
(8) Maintain adequate programs of investigation, research, promotion and development in connection with the purposes and to provide for public participation therein.
(9) Provide satisfactory assurances on behalf of the state that fiscal control and fund accounting procedures will be adopted by the state necessary to assure proper disbursement of and accounting for federal funds paid to the state as rail service continuation subsidies.
(10) Comply with the regulations of the Secretary of Transportation of the United States Department of Transportation affecting federal rail service continuation programs.
(11) Do all things otherwise necessary to maximize federal assistance to the state under Title IV of the federal Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 and to qualify for rail service continuation subsidies pursuant to the federal Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973.
(c) Additional authority in regard to the Maryland Area Regional Commuter.
(1) The Rail Authority is hereby granted, has and may exercise all aforementioned powers necessary or appropriate to coordinate all activities with the Maryland Transit Administration to assure the continued operation of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter into the eastern panhandle of the state.
(2) In addition to the authority provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection, the Rail Authority shall negotiate agreements with the State of Maryland or the Maryland Transit Administration for the continued operation of the commuter rail operation between Maryland and the Washington D. C. metropolitan area and West Virginia. A commuter rail operation agreement shall provide for quantity and quality of commuter rail service, including certain minimum daily service at least equivalent to the level service on the effective date of the amendments to this subsection enacted in the Regular Session of the Legislature, 2013, unless daily ridership diminishes significantly from said date. The agreement may provide for the payment of track access fees attributed to commuter rail operation within the boundaries of the state. Any payments of track access fees pursuant to the agreement shall be paid from the special fund created in section twenty-four of this article as provided by appropriation of the Legislature.
(b) After acquiring any railroad lines within the state, the authority shall assist any responsible person, firm or corporation to secure, as promptly as possible, any order or certificate required by the interstate commerce commission for the performance of railroad service. The authority shall also give any assurances or guarantees which are necessary or desirable to carry out the purposes of this article.
(c) The authority may take whatever steps are necessary in order to determine the absolute fee simple title ownership of all rail properties of any railroad within the state. The determination may include the status of the rail properties with respect to easements, rights-of-way, leases, reversionary rights, fee simple title ownership and any and all related title matters. The authority may retain attorneys, experts or other assistants, and issue any contracts as are necessary to make the title determination.
(d) All rail properties within the state offered for sale by any railway corporation after the date of enactment of this article shall be offered for sale to the state in the first instance.
(e) The authority may cooperate with other states in connection with the purchase of any rail properties within this state. The authority may also acquire railroad rights in other states and rail properties lying in other states in order to carry out the intentions and purposes of this article. In carrying out the powers and duties conferred by this article, the authority may enter into general contractual arrangements, including joint purchasing and leasing of rail properties with other states.
(f) In weighing the varied interests of the residents of this state, the authority shall give consideration to the individual interest of any county or municipality expressing a desire to acquire a portion, or all, of the abandoned real estate located within its jurisdiction. The authority may exercise its powers under this article to acquire the abandoned property for subsequent conveyance to the county or municipality.
(g) The authority may utilize federal funds, grants, gifts or donations which are available and any sums that are appropriated in carrying out the purposes of this article. The authority may also apply for discretionary or other funds available under the provisions of the federal Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 or other federal programs.
(h) The authority may apply for an acquisition and modernization loan, or a guarantee of a loan, pursuant to Section 403 of the federal Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, or any other federal programs, within the limit of funds appropriated for those purposes.
(i) The authority is authorized to purchase any railroad rolling stock, equipment and machinery necessary for the operation and maintenance of any rail properties purchased by it on behalf of the state, with any funds made available for this purpose. The authority may also acquire and have available a pool of equipment and machinery which may be utilized by the operators of the rail properties for the purpose of track maintenance and other related railroad activities upon terms and conditions determined by the authority. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections forty-eight through fifty-three, article three, chapter five-a of this code to the contrary, the authority may enter into contracts or agreements for the lease or purchase and maintenance of any vehicles required for its purposes with the division of highways. For those purposes, the division of highways is authorized and empowered to enter into contracts or agreements for the lease or purchase and maintenance of any vehicles with the authority.
(j) The authority may contract for the rebuilding or relocation of any rail properties acquired pursuant to this article, within the provisions of the federal Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, or any other applicable legislation. The authority may also spend any sums appropriated, as well as any other available funds, for the modernization, rebuilding and relocation of any rail properties owned by the state or by a private carrier. The authority may do any maintenance on any rail properties owned by the state as is necessary in the public interest.
(k) The authority may contract with any domestic or foreign person, firm, corporation, agency or government to provide, maintain or improve rail transportation service on the rail properties acquired by the state under this article.
(l) Whenever the authority determines that any rail properties acquired by the state are no longer needed for railroad purposes, it may, with the permission of the governor, permanently or temporarily transfer the rail properties to any other state department or agency or political subdivision of the state, which shall utilize the properties for a public purpose. Whenever more than one department or agency or political subdivision wishes to utilize the property, the authority shall resolve such a conflict and make a prompt determination of the reasonable and proper order of priority, taking into consideration any applicable state plans, policies or objectives. If no state department or agency or political subdivision wants the properties, the authority may sell them, with the proceeds deposited to the special railroad fund established by this article. A public hearing is required prior to the transfer or sale of any rail properties by the authority.
The authority may expend, out of any funds available for the purpose, such moneys as are necessary for the study of any proposed railroad project and may use its engineering and other forces, including consulting engineers for the purpose of effecting such study. All such expenses incurred by such study and engineering shall be paid from the funds established in section eight of this article.
The authority is hereby empowered to raise the cost of one or more railroad projects or parts thereof by the issuance from time to time of railroad maintenance revenue bonds and notes of the state in such principal amount as the authority deems necessary, but the aggregate amount of all issues of bonds and notes outstanding at one time for all projects authorized hereunder shall not exceed that amount capable of being serviced by revenues received from such projects.
The authority may, from time to time, issue renewal notes, issue bonds to pay such notes and whenever it deems refunding expedient, refund any bonds by the issuance of railroad maintenance revenue refunding bonds of the state, whether the bonds to be refunded have or have not matured, and issue bonds partly to refund bonds then outstanding and partly for any other authorized purpose. The refunding bonds shall be sold and the proceeds applied to the purchase, redemption or payment of the bonds to be refunded. Except as may otherwise be expressly provided by the authority, every issue of its bonds or notes shall be obligations of the authority payable out of the revenues of the authority, which are pledged for such payment, without preference or priority of the first bonds issued, subject only to any agreements with the holders of particular bonds or notes pledging any particular revenues. Such pledge shall be valid and binding from the time the pledge is made and the revenue so pledged and thereafter received by the authority shall immediately be subject to the lien of such pledge without any physical delivery thereof or further act and the lien of any such pledge shall be valid and binding as against all parties having claims of any kind in tort, contract or otherwise against the authority irrespective of whether such parties have notice thereof.
All such bonds and notes shall have and are hereby declared to have all the qualities of negotiable instruments.
The bonds and notes shall be authorized by resolution of the authority, shall bear such date and shall mature at such time, in the case of any such note or any renewals thereof not exceeding five years from the date of issue of such original note, and in the case of any such bond not exceeding fifty years from the date of issue, as such resolution may provide. The bonds and notes shall bear interest at such rate, be in such denominations, be in such form, either coupon or registered, carry such registration privileges, be payable in such medium of payment, at such place and be subject to such terms of redemption as the authority may authorize. The bonds and notes of the authority may be sold by the authority, at public or private sale, at or not less than the price the authority determines. The bonds and notes shall be executed by the chairman and vice chairman of the authority, both of whom may use facsimile signatures. The official seal of the authority or a facsimile thereof shall be affixed thereto or printed thereon and attested, manually or by facsimile signature, by the secretary-treasurer of the authority, and any coupons attached thereto shall bear the signature or facsimile signature of the chairman of the authority. In case any officer whose signature, or a facsimile of whose signature, appears on any bonds, notes or coupons ceases to be such officer before delivery of such bonds or notes, such signature or facsimile is nevertheless sufficient for all purposes the same as if he had remained in office until such delivery and in case the seal of the authority has been changed after a facsimile has been imprinted on such bonds or notes such facsimile seal will continue to be sufficient for all purposes.
Any resolution authorizing any bonds or notes or any issue thereof may contain provisions, subject to such agreements with bondholders or noteholders as may then exist, which provisions shall be a part of the contract with the holders thereof, as to pledging all or any part of the revenues of the authority tosecure the payment of the bonds or notes or of any issue thereof; the use and disposition of revenues of the authority; a covenant to fix, alter and collect rates, rentals and other charges so that pledged revenues will be sufficient to pay the costs of operation, maintenance and repairs, pay principal of and interest on bonds or notes secured by the pledge of such revenues and provide such reserves as may be required by the applicable resolution or trust agreement; the setting aside of reserve funds, sinking funds or replacement and improvement funds and the regulation and disposition thereof; the crediting of the proceeds of the sale of bonds or notes to and among the funds referred to or provided for in the resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds or notes; the use, lease, sale or other disposition of any railroad project or any other assets of the authority; limitations on the purpose to which the proceeds of sale of bonds or notes may be applied and pledging such proceeds to secure the payment of the bonds or notes or of any issue thereof; notes issued in anticipation of the issuance of bonds, the agreement of the authority to do all things necessary for the authorization, issuance and sale of such bonds in such amounts as may be necessary for the timely retirement of such notes; limitations on the issuance of additional bonds or notes; the terms upon which additional bonds or notes may be issued and secured; the refunding of outstanding bonds or notes; the procedure, if any, by which the terms of any contract with bondholders or noteholders may be amended or abrogated, the amount of bonds or notes the holders of which must consent thereto and the manner in which such consent may be given; limitations on the amount of moneys to be expended by the authority for operating, administrative or other expenses of the authority; securing any bonds or notes by a trust agreement; and any other matters, of like or different character, which in any way affect the security or protection of the bonds or notes.
Neither the members of the authority nor any person executing the bonds or notes shall be liable personally on the bonds or notes or be subject to any personal liability or accountability by reason of the issuance thereof.
In the discretion of the authority, any railroad maintenance bonds or notes or railroad maintenance refunding bonds issued by the authority under this article may be secured by a trust agreement between the authority and a corporate trustee, which trustee may be any trust company or banking institution having the powers of a trust company within or without this state.
Any such trust agreement may pledge or assign revenues of the authority to be received, but shall not convey or mortgage any railroad project or any part thereof. Any such trust agreement or any resolution providing for the issuance of such bonds or notes may contain such provisions for protecting and enforcing the rights and remedies of the bondholders or noteholders as are reasonable and proper and not in violation of law, including covenants setting forth the duties of the authority in relation to the acquisition of property, the construction, improvement, maintenance, repair, operation and insurance of the railroad project in connection with which such bonds or notes are authorized, the rentals or other charges to be imposed for the use or services of any railroad project, the custody, safeguarding, and application of all moneys and provisions for the employment of consulting engineers in connection with the construction or operation of such railroad project. Any banking institution or trust company incorporated under the laws of this state which may act as depository of the proceeds of bonds or notes or of revenues shall furnish such indemnifying bonds or pledge such securities as are required by the authority. Any such trust agreement may set forth the rights and remedies of the bondholders and noteholders and of the trustee and may restrict individual rights of action by bondholders and noteholders as customarily provided in trust agreements or trust indentures securing similar bonds. Such trust agreement may contain such other provisions as the authority deems reasonable and proper for the security of the bondholders or noteholders. All expenses incurred in carrying out the provisions of any such trust agreement may be treated as a part of the cost of the operation of the railroad project. Any such trust agreement or resolution authorizing the issuance of railroad maintenance revenue bonds may provide the method whereby the general administrative overhead expenses of the authority shall be allocated among the several projects acquired or constructed by it as a factor of the operating expenses of each such project.
All expenses incurred in carrying out the provisions of this article shall be payable solely from funds provided under authority of this article. Such article does not authorize the authority to incur indebtedness or liability on behalf of or payable by the state or any county, municipality or political subdivision thereof.
Any governmental agency or agencies or combination thereof may cooperate with the authority in the acquisition or construction of a railroad project and shall enter into such agreements with the authority as are necessary, with a view to effective cooperative action and safeguarding of the respective interests of the parties thereto, which agreements shall provide for such contributions by the parties thereto in such proportion as may be agreed upon and such other terms as may be mutually satisfactory to the parties, including without limitation the authorization of the construction of the project by one of the parties acting as agent for all of the parties and the ownership and control of the project by the authority to the extent necessary or appropriate for purposes of the issuance of railroad maintenance revenue bonds by the authority. Any governmental agency may provide such contribution as is required under such agreements by the appropriation of money or, if authorized by a favorable vote of the electors to issue bonds or notes or levy taxes or assessments and issue notes or bonds in anticipation of the collection thereof, by the issuance of bonds or notes or by the levying of taxes or assessments and the issuance of bonds or notes in anticipation of the collection thereof, and by the payment of such appropriated money or the proceeds of such bonds or notes to the authority pursuant to such agreements.
Any governmental agency, pursuant to a favorable vote of the electors in an election held before or after the effective date of this section for the purpose of issuing bonds to provide funds to acquire, construct or equip, or provide real estate and interests in real estate for a railroad project, whether or not the governmental agency at the time of such election had the authority to pay the proceeds from such bonds or notes issued in anticipation thereof to the authority as provided in this section, may issue such bonds or notes in anticipation of the issuance thereof and pay the proceeds thereof to the authority in accordance with an agreement between such governmental agency and the authority: Provided, That the legislative authority of the governmental agency finds and determines that the railroad project to be acquired or constructed by the authority in cooperation with such governmental agency will serve the same public purpose and meet substantially the same public need as the facility otherwise proposed to be acquired or constructed by the governmental agency with the proceeds of such bonds or notes.
Each railroad project, when constructed and placed in operation, shall be maintained and kept in good condition and repair by the authority or the authority shall cause the same to be maintained and kept in good condition and repair. Each such project shall be operated by such operating employees as the authority employs or pursuant to a contract or lease with a governmental agency or person. All public or private property damaged or destroyed in carrying out the provisions of this article and in the exercise of the powers granted hereunder with regard to any project shall be restored or repaired and placed in its original condition, as nearly as practicable, or adequate compensation made therefor out of funds provided in accordance with the provisions of this article.
As soon as possible after the close of each fiscal year, the authority shall make an annual report of its activities for the preceding fiscal year to the governor and the Legislature. Each such report shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement covering the authority's operations during the preceding fiscal year. The authority shall cause an audit of its books and accounts to be made at least once each fiscal year by certified public accountants and the cost thereof may be treated as a part of the cost of construction or of operations of its projects.
The authority may acquire by purchase, whenever it deems such purchase expedient, any land, property, rights, rights-of-way, franchises, easements and other interests in lands it deems necessary or convenient for the construction and operation of any railroad project upon such terms and at such prices it considers reasonable and can be agreed upon between the authority and the owner thereof, and take title thereto in the name of the state.
All governmental agencies, notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, may lease, lend, grant or convey to the authority, at its request, upon such terms as the proper authorities of such governmental agencies deem reasonable and fair and without the necessity for an advertisement, auction, order of court or other action or formality, other than the regular and formal action of the governmental agency concerned, any real property or interests therein, including improvements thereto or personal property which is necessary or convenient to the effectuation of the authorized purposes of the authority, including public roads and other real property or interests therein, including improvements thereto or personal property already devoted to public use.
When the authority finds it necessary to change the location of any portion of any public road, state highway, railroad or public utility facility in connection with the construction of a railroad project, it shall cause the same to be reconstructed at such location as the unit or division of government having jurisdiction over such road, highway, railroad or public utility facility deems most favorable. Such construction shall be of substantially the same type and in as good condition as the original road, highway, railroad or public utility facility. The cost of such reconstruction, relocation or removal and any damage incurred in changing the location of any such road, highway, railroad or public utility facility shall be paid by the authority as a part of the cost of such railroad project.
When the authority finds it necessary that any public highway or portion thereof be vacated by reason of the acquisition or construction of a railroad project, the authority shall request the West Virginia commissioner of highways, in writing, to vacate such highway or portion thereof if the highway or portion thereof to be vacated is part of the state road system, or, if the highway or portion thereof to be vacated is under the jurisdiction of a county or a municipality, the authority shall request the governing body of such county or municipality to vacate such public road or portion thereof. The authority shall pay to the West Virginia commissioner of highways or to the county or municipality, as the case may be, as part of the cost of such railroad project, any amounts required to be deposited with any court in connection with proceedings for the determination of compensation and damages and all amounts of compensation and damages finally determined to be payable as a result of such vacation.
The authority may make reasonable rules and regulations for the installation, construction, maintenance, repair, renewal, relocation and removal of railroad or public utility facilities in, on, over or under any railroad project. Whenever the authority determines that it is necessary that any such facilities installed or constructed in, on, over or under property of the authority pursuant to such rules and regulations be relocated, the railroad or public utility owning or operating such facilities shall relocate or remove them in accordance with the order of the authority. The cost and expenses of such relocation or removal, including the cost of installing such facilities in a new location, the cost of any lands or any rights or interests in lands and the cost of any other rights acquired to accomplish such relocation or removal, may be paid by the authority as a part of the cost of such railroad project. In case of any such relocation or removal of facilities, the railroad or public utility owning or operating them, and its successors or assigns, may maintain and operate such facilities, with the necessary appurtenances in the new location in, on, over or under the property of the authority for as long a period and upon the same terms as it had the right to maintain and operate such facilities in their former location.
No officer, member or employee of the authority shall be financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract of any person with the authority, or in the sale of any property, real or personal, to or from the authority. This section does not apply to contracts or purchases of property, real or personal, between the authority and any governmental agency. If any officer, member or employee of the authority has such financial interest in a contract or sale of property prohibited hereby, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
There is hereby established a special fund in the State Treasury known as the West Virginia Commuter Rail Access Fund. The fund shall be administered by the director and shall consist of appropriations by the Legislature. Subject to legislative appropriation, the director shall administer the fund to pay track access fees pursuant to the agreement required by section six of this article. Balances in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall not expire, but shall be expended for those purposes in ensuing fiscal years.
(b) The plan shall, at a minimum, comply with the provisions of the laws of the United States and any regulations made thereunder relating to capturing and administering federal moneys for rail transportation, local rail services, and intermodal facilities as deemed necessary by the authority.
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