4981.29 Encouraging private participation.

(A) In addition to the powers contained in section 4981.14 of the Revised Code, the Ohio rail development commission may do all of the following:

(1) Notwithstanding division (A) of section 4981.04 of the Revised Code, adopt a plan for private participation in the financing, design, construction, and operation of all or part of a rail system;

(2) Grant franchises for terms of up to fifty years and enter into franchise agreements with private corporations or organizations in connection therewith. A franchise may be awarded for the entire rail system or for a designated portion of the system, such as a corridor.

(3) Use, close, relocate, or alter the grade of existing streets or highways or facilities of public utilities, and otherwise ensure compatibility of operation of public facilities with a franchise, whether in connection with the exercise of the commission's power to appropriate property or otherwise;

(4) Consult with and receive services from other state agencies and political subdivisions in connection with the planning, financing, construction, and operation of the rail system;

(5) In accordance with Chapter 163. of the Revised Code, and subject to the approval of the director of transportation, appropriate at a franchisee's expense real property that it may transfer to the franchisee, if the franchisee previously has made reasonable efforts to obtain the property in question through good-faith negotiations;

(6) Make proceeds of bonds issued pursuant to section 4981.15 of the Revised Code available for financing of all or part of a privately operated rail system, and serve as the issuer of bonds to fund loans it may make to private corporations and organizations under sections 4981.01 to 4981.26 of the Revised Code;

(7) Preserve and defend the confidentiality of trade secrets and proprietary information received from private corporations or organizations;

(8) Enter into any indemnification agreements that are necessary to reimburse a franchisee for any injuries or losses suffered by any person and for which the franchisee is liable and must pay money damages, if the injuries or losses are of such a nature that, if the commission were the responsible party instead of the franchisee, the commission would not be liable for the injuries or losses due to any immunity it enjoys under the laws of this state.

(B) The commission shall not regulate the rates or fares charged by a franchisee or the return on investment received by a franchisee, provided the rates are not discriminatory and overall return is not unreasonable. The commission shall not regulate operations of a franchisee so long as the franchisee operates in accordance with all applicable safety standards.

Effective Date: 10-20-1994