§ 136‑19.5.  Utility right‑of‑way agreements.

(a) Before the Department of Transportation acquires or proposes to acquire additional rights‑of‑way for the purpose of accommodating the installation of utilities as authorized by G.S. 136‑18 and G.S. 136‑19, there shall first be voluntary agreements with the appropriate utilities regarding the acquisition and use of the particular right‑of‑way and requiring the payment to the Department of Transportation for or recapture of all of its costs associated with that acquisition, including the use of funds allocated to such acquisition. Such agreements may take into account the fact that more than one utility can make use of the right‑of‑way. No such agreement shall constitute a sale of the right‑of‑way and all such rights‑of‑way shall remain under the control of the Department of Transportation.

(b) A prior agreement between the Department of Transportation and the affected utilities may be entered into but is not required when the acquisition of right‑of‑way is for the purpose of relocation of utilities due to construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of a State transportation project. The Department of Transportation shall notify the affected utility whose facilities are being relocated and the affected utility may choose not to participate in the proposed plan for right‑of‑way acquisition. The decision not to participate in the proposed plan of right‑of‑way acquisition shall not affect any other rights the utility may have as a result of the relocation of its lines or pipelines.

(c) Whenever the Department of Transportation requires the relocation of utilities, including cable service as defined in G.S. 105‑164.3, located in a right‑of‑way for which the utility owner contributed to the cost of acquisition, the Department of Transportation shall reimburse the utility owner for the cost of moving those utilities. The Department may, with the agreement of the utility owner, acquire a replacement right‑of‑way and assign the easement rights of the replacement right‑of‑way to the utility owner.

(d) Any additional right‑of‑way obtained pursuant to this section which is part of a railroad right‑of‑way shall be returned to the railroad or its successor in interest when the Department of Transportation and the affected utilities agree that the additional right‑of‑way is no longer useful for utility purposes and the Department of Transportation determines that it is no longer useful for transportation purposes. (1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 962, s. 3; 2009‑266, s. 9; 2017‑10, s. 2.12(c); 2018‑5, s. 34.14.)