Article - Transportation
(a) (1) In this section, “trenching” means a construction project in which a highway right–of–way surface is opened or removed for the purpose of laying or installing conduit, fiber, or similar infrastructure in excess of 1 mile in length.
(2) “Trenching” does not include a project for construction or maintenance of a highway facility, including drainage or culvert work.
(b) The following units of the State shall allow the use of any right–of–way or easement for the installation of broadband communication infrastructure provided by nonprofit telecommunications services providers in rural and underserved areas of the State without imposition of any charge for the use of the right–of–way or the easement:
(1) The Department of Transportation, including the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the Maryland Transit Administration;
(2) The Board of Public Works;
(3) The Department of Information Technology;
(4) The Department of Natural Resources; and
(5) The Department of the Environment.
(c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a unit of local government and the Department of Transportation, including the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the Maryland Transit Administration, shall allow joint trenching by broadband providers on a nonexclusive and nondiscriminatory basis.
(2) The Department or a unit of local government may deny joint trenching if:
(i) Joint trenching will hinder or obstruct highway safety or the construction, maintenance, operations, or related regulation of highway facilities; or
(ii) Joint trenching is not feasible because it will delay the repair or construction of a county’s water, wastewater, electricity, or gas lines.
(3) (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, the Department or a unit of local government may charge a fee to a broadband provider that participates in joint trenching on reasonable financial terms.
(ii) The Department or a unit of local government may not charge a fee to a nonprofit broadband provider that participates in joint trenching.
(iii) Revenues generated from fees charged by the Department under this section shall be evenly distributed across funds designed for investment in broadband infrastructure.
(iv) Revenues generated from fees charged by a unit of local government under this section shall be used to improve broadband access and adoption within that jurisdiction.
(d) This section may not be construed to limit or otherwise affect any right granted to the State or a unit of the State under § 253 of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 with regard to for profit telecommunications services providers.
(e) On or before January 1, 2022, the Department, after consulting with stakeholders including broadband providers, the Maryland Association of Counties, and the Maryland Municipal League, shall adopt regulations for the implementation of this section, including:
(1) Procedures for charging a fee to a broadband provider for joint trenching on reasonable financial terms; and
(2) Procedures for the Department and units of local government to provide notice of upcoming trenching projects to broadband providers.
(f) This section does not apply to a county or municipal corporation within the Washington Suburban Sanitary District.