(a) The authority may sell, transfer or lease all, or any part, of the rail properties and other property acquired under the provisions of this article to any responsible person, firm or corporation for continued operation of a railroad or other public purpose: Provided, That approval for the continued operation or other public purpose, is granted by the interstate commerce commission of the United States, whenever approval is required. The sale, transfer or lease shall be for a price and subject to any further terms and conditions which the authority feels are necessary and appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this article.
(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.