Maintaining Private Roads & Who is Responsible for Costs

Chip Seal Pavers

When starting a new road or housing project, it’s important to be aware of the surrounding roads, who owns them and how well maintained they are. Damaged or poorly constructed roads are troublesome. They can halt projects and even be dangerous for foot and car traffic.

But just because a road hinders your quality of living (access to driveways, etc.) or even a construction project, costs don’t necessarily fall on you.

Many private roads intersect between public or residential properties and are loaned to the public by their respective owners. But who is responsible for the maintenance of these road can be a gray area depending on state and county laws.

The difference between a private road and a public one is that private roads are owned by a single person or entity versus being owned by government organizations. So for example, a road running through and HOA controlled suburb may be considered private as it’s owned by a company instead of the government.

Private roads like these can generally be used by the public because of agreements with the owners, otherwise known as an “easement”— a contract detailing who, how, and when the road may be used.

The big question is, who is responsible for maintain and fixing these roads? This will all depend on whether or not a road maintenance agreement is in place. These agreements are contracts between a private road owner and the public (usually a county) detailing who is responsible for costs. Sometimes the public county will front the bill for private roads, but sometimes it’s the owner’s responsibility. In these cases, homeowners can be put in a tight spot without having a maintenance agreement in place.

If you are moving into a new house, or working on a project involving surrounding road, then be sure to find out who owns what. By contacting your local government office, you can access lists and maps of public owned roads. Private roads will not be registered in the system even if road use is being loaned out to the public. If the road is private, ask around or do a title search, to determine the owner. A publicly owned road is the local government’s responsibility. But privately owned roads will all come down to the road maintenance agreement.

Always research before starting big road projects because without the proper agreements, or knowledge of owners, because road maintenance is costly and may fall on someone else rather than you. Knowing what type of maintenance is needed can greatly improve your chances of getting an agreement put in place. It could be a simple patch and repair, resurfacing, or even gravel placement, all varying in costs. Having these types of maintenance priced out, and having a local paving company already in mind, can put you one step closer to having a road maintence agreement signed. 

Capital Paving & Seal Coating provides free and professional quotes for paving and road maintenance services. Please feel free to give us a call at our office number 410-721-2440, or cell 410-320-2216.