West Virginia Code
(a) The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest to accommodate telecommunications facilities on Division of Highways right-of-way when the use of the right-of-way does not adversely affect the safety of the traveling public or impair the highway or its aesthetic quality or conflict with any federal, state, or local laws, rules, regulations, or policies.
(b) The Legislature further finds that a broadband connection is an essential part of developing the state and local economies, enhancing the transportation system and creating a safer and more secure environment for our citizens.
(c) The Legislature further finds that expanding telecommunication facilities will allow the state to participate in the E-Rate Program of funding for digital education in America to provide reliable services opportunities for education and training.
(d) The Legislature further finds that fast, reliable broadband connections enhance telemedical opportunities for our rural doctors and hospitals, linking them to our major medical centers. Thereby overcoming distance barriers, and improving access to medical services that often are not consistently available in rural communities.
(e) The Legislature further finds that instituting a dig once policy encourages telecommunications carriers to coordinate installation of broadband conduit to minimize costs to the carriers and minimize disruption and inconvenience to the traveling public.
In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) "Broadband conduit" or "conduit" means a conduit, innerduct, or microduct for fiber optic cables that support facilities for broadband service.
(2) "Broadband service" has the same meaning as defined in §31G-1-2 of this code.
(3) "Council" means the Broadband Enhancement Council.
(4) "Direct bury" means the burying of telecommunications wire or cable directly into the ground by means of plowing or direct insertion without the opening of a trench and without the installation of conduit or innerduct.
(5) "Division" means the Division of Highways.
(6) "Longitudinal access" means access to or the use of any part of a right-of-way that extends generally parallel to the traveled right-of-way.
(7) "Permit" means an encroachment permit issued by the commissioner of the division under the authority of this code, and pursuant to the Accommodation of Utilities on Highway Right-of-Way and Adjustment and Relocation of Utility Facilities on Highway Projects Policy, or equivalent policy, as may be currently enforced by the division, that specifies the requirements and conditions for performing work in a right-of-way and where such work involves the creation or opening of a trench for the installation of telecommunications facilities in a right-of-way.
(8) "Right-of-way" means land, property, or any interest therein acquired or controlled by the division for transportation facilities or other transportation purposes or specifically acquired for utility accommodation.
(9) "Telecommunications carrier" means a telecommunications carrier:
(A) As determined by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia; or
(B) That meets the definition of telecommunications carrier with respect to the Federal Communications Commission, as contained in 47 U.S.C. §153.
(10) "Telecommunications facility" means any cable, line, fiber, wire, conduit, innerduct, access manhole, handhole, tower, hut, pedestal, pole, box, transmitting equipment, receiving equipment, power equipment, or other equipment, system, or device that is used to transmit, receive, produce or distribute a signal for telecommunications purposes via wireline, electronic, or optical means.
(11) "Utility" has the meaning ascribed to it in §17-2A-17a of this code.
(12) "Wireless access" means access to, and use of, a right-of-way for the purpose of constructing, installing, maintaining, using, or operating telecommunications facilities for wireless telecommunications.
(a) Before obtaining a permit for the construction or installation of a telecommunications facility in a right-of-way, a telecommunications carrier must enter into an agreement with the division consistent with the requirements of this article.
(b) Before granting a permit for longitudinal access or wireless access to a right-of-way, the division shall:
(1) First enter into an agreement with a telecommunications carrier that is competitively neutral and nondiscriminatory as to other telecommunications carriers; and
(2) Upon receipt of any required approval or concurrence by the Federal Highway Administration the division may issue a permit granting access under this section: Provided, That the division shall comply with all applicable federal regulations with respect to approval of an agreement, including, but not limited to, 23 C.F.R. §710.403 and 23 C.F.R. §710.405. The agreement shall be approved by the Commissioner of Highways in order to be effective and, without limitation:
(A) Specify the terms and conditions for renegotiation of the agreement;
(B) Set forth the maintenance requirements for each telecommunications facility;
(C) Be nonexclusive; and
(D) Be for a term of not more than 30 years.
(c) Unless specifically provided for in an agreement entered into pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the division may not grant a property interest in a right-of-way pursuant to this article.
(d) A telecommunications carrier shall compensate the division for the use of spare conduit or related facilities owned or controlled by the division as part of any longitudinal access or wireless access granted to a right-of-way pursuant to this section. The compensation must be, without limitation:
(1) At fair market value: Provided, That because the social, environmental, and economic benefits from such use of state highway rights-of-way is of overwhelming value to the citizens of this state and is in the overall public interest, the division shall establish the fair market value for purposes of this article at $0 in monetary compensation;
(2) Competitively neutral;
(4) Open to public inspection;
(5) Determined based on the geographic region of this state, taking into account the population and the impact on private right-of-way users in the region; and once determined, set at an amount that encourages the deployment of digital infrastructure within this state; and
(6) Paid with in-kind compensation.
(e) The division may consider adjustments for areas the division, in conjunction with the council, determines are underserved or unserved areas of the state and may consider the value to such areas for economic development, enhancing the transportation system, expanding opportunities for digital learning, and telemedicine.
(f) For the purpose of determining the amount of in-kind compensation a telecommunications carrier must pay the division for the use of spare conduit or excess conduit or related facilities of the division as part of any longitudinal access or wireless access granted to a right-of-way pursuant to this section, the division may:
(1) Conduct an analysis once every five years, in accordance with the rules, policies, or guidelines of the division, to determine the fair market value of a right-of-way to which access has been granted pursuant to this section; and
(2) Determine the fair market value of the in-kind compensation based on the incremental costs for the installation of conduit and related facilities.
(g) The provisions of this article shall not apply to the relocation or modification of existing telecommunications facilities in a right-of-way, nor shall these provisions apply to aerial telecommunications facilities or associated apparatus or equipment in a right-of-way. Relocation of telecommunications facilities within rights-of-way for state highways shall be in accordance with the provisions of §17-4-17b of this code.
(a) The Division of Highways, in its sole discretion, may deny any longitudinal access or wireless access if such access would compromise the safe, efficient, and convenient use of any road, route, highway, or interstate in this state for the traveling public.
(b) Any longitudinal access or wireless access to a right-of-way granted by the Division of Highways pursuant to this article does not abrogate, limit, supersede, or otherwise affect access granted or authorized pursuant to the Division’s rules, policies, and guidelines related to accommodation of utilities on highways’ rights-of-way and adjustment and relocation of utility facilities on highway projects.
(a) Upon application for a permit, the applying telecommunications carrier shall notify, by email, the council and all other telecommunications carriers on record with the council of the application. Other telecommunications carriers have 15 calendar days to notify the applicant of their interest to share the applicant"s trench. This requirement extends to all underground construction technologies.
(b) If no competing telecommunications carrier provides notice of interest to share the applicant"s trench within 15 calendar days of notice of the project, the carrier applying for the permit shall affirm that fact to the division prior to being issued a permit.
(c) If a competing telecommunications carrier provides notice of interest to share the applicant"s trench, an agreement between the two (or more) telecommunications carriers shall be executed by those entities within 30 days of the notice of interest, outlining the responsibilities and financial obligations of each, with respect to the installation within the right-of-way. The financial obligations of each carrier shall be based on the proportionate sharing of costs between each carrier for joint trenching or trench sharing based on the amount of conduit innerduct space or excess conduit that is authorized in the agreements entered into pursuant to this article. If the division uses a trench, it shall also pay its proportional share unless it is utilizing the trench as in-kind payment for use of the right-of-way. A copy of the executed agreement shall be provided to the division.
(d) Should a dispute arise between the initial applying telecommunications carrier and a competing telecommunications carrier, including a failure to execute an agreement required by subsection (c) of this section, the dispute shall be adjudicated by the Public Service Commission. All disputes brought to the Public Service Commission under this article shall be adjudicated within 45 days.
(e) If two or more telecommunications carriers are required or authorized to share a single trench, each carrier in the trench must share the cost and benefits of the trench in a fair, reasonable, competitively neutral, and nondiscriminatory manner. This requirement extends to all underground construction technologies.
(f) The commissioner of the division shall promulgate rules governing the relationship between the telecommunications carriers, as hereinafter provided in this article.
(g) The provisions of this section do not apply to the following projects:
(1) Projects where the trench is less than 1,000 feet in length;
(2) Projects that use the direct bury of cable or wire facilities;
(3) Projects that are solely for the service of entities involved in national security matters or where the disclosure or sharing of a trench location would be against federal policy; or
(4) Projects where the telecommunications carrier installs an amount of spare conduit or innerduct equal to what is being installed for its own use and which is made available for lease to competing telecommunications carriers on a nondiscriminatory basis at rates established by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. All carriers installing spare conduit or innerduct shall notify the council of the location and capacity of such spare conduit and innerduct upon completion of the project, and the council shall make such information publicly available for competing telecommunications carriers.
(a) In-kind compensation paid to the division under an agreement entered into pursuant to this article may include, without limitation:
(1) Conduit or excess conduit;
(3) Dark fiber;
(4) Access points;
(5) Telecommunications equipment or services;
(6) Bandwidth; and
(7) Other telecommunications facilities as a component of the present value of the trenching.
(b) The division shall value any in-kind compensation based on fair market value at the time of installation or review, and may also consider any valuation or cost information provided by the telecommunications carrier.
(c) In-kind compensation paid to the division may be disposed of if both of the following conditions are met:
(1) The telecommunications facility received as in-kind payment has not been used within 10 years of its installation; and
(2) The commissioner of the division determines that the division does not have an immediately foreseeable need for the telecommunications facility.
(d) Upon determining that it is appropriate to dispose of the telecommunications facility, the division shall determine its current fair market value. The division shall offer the provider or providers who made the in-kind payment the option to purchase any telecommunications facility obtained from such provider. If the provider or providers do not purchase the telecommunications facility, it shall be offered for public auction in the same manner as the division auctions excess rights-of-way.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the division may, upon written approval of the Governor, transfer or assign the ownership, control, or any rights related to any in-kind compensation received by the division to any other state agency.
(a) If the Division of Highways enters into an agreement with two or more telecommunications carriers, a consortium or other entity whose members, partners or other participants are two or more telecommunications carriers, or, if the Division requires or allows two or more telecommunications carriers to share a single trench, the agreements entered into pursuant to this article shall require that the telecommunications carriers share the obligation of compensating the Division of Highways on a fair, reasonable and equitable basis, taking into consideration the proportionate uses and benefits to be derived by each telecommunications carrier from the trench, conduits, and other telecommunications facilities installed under the agreements.
(b) The provisions of §17-2E-7(a) of this code do not prevent the Division of Highways from requiring every participating telecommunications carrier to bear joint and several liability for the obligations owed to the Division of Highways under the agreements.
(c) Any agreement requiring two or more telecommunications carriers to share the obligation of compensating the Division of Highways shall provide the Division the right to review and audit the records and contracts of and among the participating carriers to ensure compliance with §17-2E-7(a) of this code.
(a) The requirements set forth in this article do not alter existing rules, policies, and procedures relating to other utility facilities within a right-of-way or for accommodating utility facilities or other facilities under the control of the Division of Highways.
(b) The Division of Highways may consider the financial and technical qualifications of a telecommunications carrier when determining specific insurance requirements for contractors authorized to enter a right-of-way to construct, install, inspect, test, maintain, or repair telecommunications facilities with longitudinal access or wireless access to the right-of-way.
(c) If the Division of Highways authorizes longitudinal access, wireless access, or the use of, and access to, conduit or related facilities of the Division for construction and installation of a telecommunications facility, the Division may require an approved telecommunications carrier to install the telecommunications facility in the same general location as similar facilities already in place, coordinate their planning and work with other contractors performing work in the same geographic area, install in a joint trench when two or more telecommunications carriers are performing installations at the same time and equitably share costs between such carriers.
(d) The placement, installation, maintenance, repair, use, operation, replacement, and removal of telecommunications facilities with longitudinal access or wireless access to a right-of-way or that use or access conduit or related facilities of the Division shall be accommodated only when in compliance with this code and Division of Highways rules, policies and guidelines.
(e) Access to a right-of-way must be administered in compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. §151, et seq., as amended.
The Commissioner of the Division of Highways may promulgate rules pursuant to the provisions of §29A-3-15 of this code as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this article, and as may have been specifically delineated within this article.