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Relating to painting and marking requirements for certain towers; creating an offense.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
The bill would amend the Transportation Code to specify painting, marking, and safety standards applicable to certain meteorological evaluation towers (MET). The bill would require the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to adopt rules to implement and administer the provisions of the bill, including rules requiring a person who owns, operates, or erects a MET to provide notice to TxDOT of the existence of or intent to erect a MET and to register the MET with TxDOT.
Based on the information provided by TxDOT, it is assumed any costs or duties associated with implementing the provisions of the bill could be absorbed within the agency's existing resources.
If passed, HB 946 would require certain towers to be marked in a specific way. Namely towers which are self-sustaining or supported by guy wires, not more than six feet in diameter at the base, has accessory facilities (specified in the bill), is between 50 and 200 feet tall, and is not attached to a building. Such towers would be required to be painted in orange and white bands and display aviation marker balls. According to the bill author's office, this legislation is primarily relevant to meteorological evaluation towers.
Failure to comply with this requirement would be punishable with a Class C misdemeanor. If personal injury or death occurs as a result of a collision failure to comply would be punishable by a Class B misdemeanor.
Reports indicate that meteorological towers associated with wind energy development are the cause of a growing number of aviation accidents due to the towers being difficult for pilots to see. HB 946 would mitigate the hazard to aerial navigation posed by tall towers. This would increase safety for low altitude aviators.
Numerous other types of hazards to aerial navigation are regulated the same way by TxDOT, including cell phone towers and electrical towers and transmission lines. Such regulations can be viewed the same as state highway safety regulations including traffic lanes and warning signs that let motorists know of the proper place to be on the road and notify them of upcoming obstructions. We support HB 946.
We also supported the Senate companion bill, SB 505, earlier this session.