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there be necessity for prompt action, they may take such legal proceedings as may be proper; and the Attorney General shall institute and conduct such proceedings.” The “complaint and application” of a Town Council, intended in this last Section, must, of course, relate to some railroad company, and be confined to “the mode of operating the road and conducting its business” “in order to promote the security, convenience and accommodation of the public,” the power and duty to enforce which is given to the Railroad Commissioners in the preceding Section (1457,) and also in Section 1455, which makes it the duty of the Railroad Commissioners to examine all the railroads in the State, and to keep themselves informed as to their condition “and the manner in which they are operated with reference to the security and accommodation of the public.”—See also Section 1460. General Statutes: The “business” of railroads being the “transporting of freight and passengers,” the words “mode of conducting its business to promote the security, convenience and accommodation of the public” must reasonably be construed to relate to the public concerned in such “transporting of freight and passengers,” rather than to the public generally. And the words giving to the Railroad. Commissioners the power to regulate “the manner in which railroads are operated with reference to the security and accommodation of the public” should also be construed to relate to the security and accommodation of the public concerned in, and affected by, the transporting of freight and passengers, rather than to the public generally. The complaint of the Town Council of Blackville is not that the mode in which the South Carolina Railway Company conducts its business of transporting freight and passengers does not promote the security, convenience and accommodation of the public concerned in such transportation, but that the location of its structures interferes with the use of a street as a public highway. The public, whose convenience and accommodation may be affected by the alleged obstructions of a street, is not the public whose accommodation by the railroad it is the duty of the Railroad Commissioners to secure, but the public which is represented by the Town Council of Blackville, and whose rights, if infringed by the Railroad Company, the said Town Council can protect through the Courts, without the instrumentality of the Railroad Commissioners. Where the railroad crossings of public highways outside of the corporate limits of cities and towns are, in the opinion of the County Commissioners, unsafe as to the lives of persons, or as to the protection of property, the County Commissioners shall indicate how and in what manner such crossings shall be constructed so as to secure safety, and shall have power to require the railroad company to make such construction.—(General Statutes of 1882, §§ 1487, 1488.) “And any city
or town may recover of a railroad corporation whose road crosses a highway or town way therein, all damages, charges and expenses incurred by such city or town by reason of the neglect or refusal of the corporation to erect or keep in repair all structures required or necessary at such crossing.”—$ 1498. These Sections are cited as showing that railroad companies may be compelled to do such things as are necessary to secure safety to the public on highways without the agency of the Railroad Commissioners. Even if the Railroad Commissioners have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint of the Town Council of Blackville, it is certainly not exclusive of the jurisdiction of the Courts of the State; and the Town Council of Blackville, if their complaint is well founded, can obtain from the Courts, upon proper proceedings instituted, relief more adequate and effectual than could be afforded by the Railroad Commissioners. An additional reason why the Railroad Commissioners should not take jurisdiction of the complaint of the Town Council of Blackville is, that the decision would involve the determination of the title to the land which the South Carolina Railway Company claims to own absolutely as a right of way; power to do which I do not think is given to them. I consider the right and duty of the Railroad Commissioners to act upon the complaint of the Town Council of Blackville to be very doubtful, to say the least; and the Town Council of Blackville having a plain and adequate remedy for the alleged injury in the Courts of the State, I advise the Board of Railroad Commissioners to decline to act upon the complaint. Very respectfully, CH. RICHARDSON MILES, Attorney General.
Minority Report in the Blackville Case.
The defects in the drainage of Railroad avenue and the crossing of the railroad track had been remedied before the hearing of the case. The decision of the Commissioner to the effect that the railroad company should resume the exclusive control of the new covered platform has been also complied with since the decision was rendered and since the last session of the Legislature. The Commissioner decided that he had no jurisdiction as to the injury done to the property of individual owners of lots on Railroad avenue by the extension of the sidings of the railroad. That that was a question for the Courts, at the instance of each party whose property had been injured. Also, that the railroad company was authorized to use its right of way for railroad purposes, but not in such a manner as to impede the public in the use of the street as a thoroughfare. And that if the company can restrict the use by the public of the North side of the railroad track to twenty feet between the bank and sidings thereon and the sidewalk, they could close it entirely. The Attorney General in his opinion says: “The South Carolina Railway Company claims that the structures complained of are erected on the right of way owned by the said company; and denies or does not concede that the town of Blackville has a right to a use in that right of way as a public street.” The Commissioner who made the decision decided that the public, not the “town of Blackville,” had the right to the use of the public streets, as they were incorporated and had been used for more than twenty years as public highways, and, with great respect for the opinion of Attorney General Miles, is of the same opinion still. He did not consider that the title to the land was at all involved in the points he decided. The South South Carolina Railway Company virtually claims that it can exclude the public from the use of the streets on either side of the depot even to the very doors of the dwellings, as will be seen by the above extract from the Attorney General's opinion. The Commissioner had supposed that it was the intention of the Legislature to clothe the Railroad Commission with jurisdiction of this question, so as to obviate the necessity for a resort to a Grand Jury and Court of Sessions. It is a measure of relief, and was intended to avoid the delay of the Courts—to afford a speedy disposition of such questions. The office was, to a certain extent, created to interpose between the public and the railroads, and the minority respectfully submits that the following Sections of the Act indicate that purpose: “Sec. 43. The Commissioner shall have the general supervision of all railroads and railways in this State operated by steam, and shall examine the same and keep himself informed as to their condition, and the manner in which they are operated with reference to the security and accommodation of the public and the compliance of the several corporations with the provisions of their charters and the laws of the State; and the provisions of this Act shall apply to all railroads and railways, and to the corporations, trustees, receivers or others owning or operating the same.” SEc. 44. Whenever in the judgment of the Railroad Commissioner it shall appear that any such corporation has violated any law, or neglected in any respect or particular to comply with the terms of its charter, or with the provisions of any of the laws of the State, especially in regard to the connections with other railroads, the rates of toll and the time
schedule, he shall give notice thereof in writing to such corporation; and if the violation or neglect is continued after such notice, the Commissioner shall make application to a Circuit Court, or a Judge thereof in vacation, for an injunction to restrain the company complained of from further continuing to violate the law or the terms of its charter.” The italics above are made by myself. When the complaint is made by a Mayor and Aldermen, or Council of any city, town or Board of County Commissioners, under the 46th Section of said Act, if the cause of complaint be not removed within sixty days according to the adjudication of the Commissioner, the report is to be made to the General Assembly for such action as it may deem expedient. The decision was made just before the last session of the Legislature and the sixty days had not then expired.
M. L. BONHAM.
3d.—Town Council of Leesville vs. The Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad.
The leading object of the complainants in this case was to obtain the removal of the depot of the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad Company from the middle of Main street to one side thereof. The Commission entertaining doubts as to their right to have the depot moved, and from the pressure of other business, have deferred action on this case, but as early as practicable will resume its consideration.
4th.-Union Depot and Station Houses of the Railroads Entering the City - of Columbia.
The South Carolina Railway, the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta and Columbia and Greenville Railroads had no shelter to protect the traveling public, and the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad no adequate station house. June 13th, 1882, the Commission gave notice to each of the railroad companies whose tracks enter the city that, according to Section 45 of the General Railroad Act, in his judgment, it was reasonable and expedient, in order to promote the security, convenience and accommodation of the public, that a comfortable shelter be constructed over its depot platform at the stopping place of the passenger trains for the protection of the traveling public from the weather, and that they would be required, on the complaint of the Town Council of Columbia, and in conformity to the 83d Section of the General Railroad Law [General Statutes 1494], to construct at their respective depots in Columbia two good rooms or apartments of reasonable size for the amount
of travel, and to otherwise comply with the terms of the Section. Immediately thereafter the Commissioner was notified by the General Manager of the South Carolina Railway that a depɔt would be commenced by July 1st, 1882, on Gervais street, at the point where that railway, the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta and the Columbia and Greenville Railroads meet, sufficiently large for the accommodation of the entire passenger traffic of Columbia. The construction was promptly begun, and a commodious and handsome building has been completed since the last session of the Legislature, which adds greatly to the convenience and accommodation of the traveling public. It is used by the three roads above damed.
5th.-Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad.
After the correspondence which follows, the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad Company constructed at their station on Blavding street two suitable rooms, and complied with the requirements of the 83d Section of the General Railroad Act (1494th Section General Statutes) so far as the quality of the rooms are concerned. It will be seen that the last two letters addressed to President Haskell were not auswered :
M. L. BONHAM, Chairman. )
OFFICE OF RAILROAD COMMISSIONERS,
COLUMBIA, S. C., March 27, 1883. Hon. A. C. HASKELL, President C., C. & A. and C. & G. R. R's,
Columbia, S. C. Dear Sir:
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Let us respectfully call your attention to the interview of Captain Walker with yourself, on the 28th of February last, concerning the notice of Commissioner Bonham in respect to passenger accommodations at this place. * * * Yours very respectfully,
M. L. BONHAM, Chairman Board Railroad Commissioners.