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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (06/17/66)

decided: June 17, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION



Appeal from order of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission No. C. 17939, in case of Department of Highways, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

COUNSEL

Joel E. Mazor, Assistant Attorney General, with him Howard M. Shaw, Assistant Attorney General, John R. Rezzolla, Jr., Chief Counsel, and Walter E. Alessandroni, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Dominic J. Ferraro, Assistant Counsel, with him Anthony L. Marino, Assistant Counsel, and Joseph C. Bruno, Chief Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.

John C. Sullivan, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Spencer G. Hall, City Solicitor, for City of Harrisburg, intervening appellee.

Robert D. Hanson, Solicitor, for County of Dauphin, intervening appellee.

James E. Frick, with him H. Merle Mulloy, for Reading Company, intervening appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Watkins, J., dissents.

Author: Hoffman

[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 170]

On February 13, 1964, the City of Harrisburg instituted proceedings before the Public Utility Commission against the Reading Company, the County of Dauphin, and the Pennsylvania Department of Highways. The City's complaint alleged that the bridge carrying Thirteenth Street, a city street, over certain tracks of the Reading Railroad was in a severe state of deterioration. It further alleged that the bridge was a hazard to the travelling public and was in need of alteration or reconstruction. Answers were filed by all respondents and hearings were held on April 30, 1964, and January 27, 1965. The latter hearing resulted in an order sustaining the complaint, approving plans for the construction of a new bridge at an estimated cost of $162,617.35, and directing, inter alia, that the Department of Highways pay $25,000.00 as its share of such cost.

It is from this order that this appeal has been taken by the Department of Highways. The City of Harrisburg, the County of Dauphin and the Reading Company have been allowed to intervene.

[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 171]

Costs were allocated by the Commission under authority granted by §§ 409-411 of the Public Utility Law, Act of May 28, 1937, P. L. 1053, 66 P.S. §§ 1179-1181. In Wilkes-Barre v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 164 Pa. Superior Ct. 210, 214, 63 A.2d 452, 455 (1949), this court said that these sections of the Public Utility Law confer ". . . exclusive power upon the Public Utility Commission to regulate the construction, relocation, alteration, protection and abolition of the crossings of one utility by another, and to require that the work incident thereto 'be performed in whole or in part by any public utility or municipal corporation concerned or by the Commonwealth.'"

Appellant contends, however, that allocation of costs in this proceeding violates Article 9, § 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Act of May 1, 1929, P. L. 1046, §§ 4 and 5, as amended, 72 P.S. § 3564, the Act of May 21, 1931, P. L. 149, § 10, as amended, 72 P.S. § 2611j, and the Act of June 1, ...


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