Right of Way
The right-of-way certified by the Road Commission by the McNitt Act of 1931 varies in widths generally from 66 to 80 feet depending on the type of road and use at the time.
When you consider twenty to twenty-four feet of pavement, six to eight feet of shoulder on each side and eight to ten feet of ditch on each side, the sixty-six feet are used up in a hurry. Most of the right-of-way is just a release for road purposes only, which was obtained through the McNitt Act, but some of it has been purchased in deed by the Road Commission.
If we have a township agreement to improve a section of road and the sixty-six (66) feet is not wide enough to make the improvements needed, then we have to buy additional land from the property owners along the road. Many times the land owners are so pleased to get their road improved that they will sell the needed right-of-way to the Road Commission for one dollar. If that is not agreeable or if federal money is going to be spent on the construction, we will have the property appraised and offer the market value for the property. Sometimes even this does not work. The owner does not want the road changed at all, giving reasons that it will cause more cars to pass by his house or that he doesn't want the road any closer to his house. If the majority of the owners feel this way, the road probably won't be improved, but if it is just a small percentage, we will be forced to go to condemnation proceedings. This method is a last resort procedure and causes the courts to step in and award the Road Commission the necessary property at the appraised value.
If the developer of a subdivision wants us to take over the maintenance of the new roads, he must first bring them up to County Road specifications, and then we will certify them. Generally, they must be an eighty-foot-wide right-of-way; the road must be graveled and then paved.
Land owners sometimes think they own property right up to the edge of the gravel. This is not always so. Some get upset when we grade the shoulders of the roads that they have planted grass on and are mowing. There is a reason for grading the shoulders other than just to tear up sod. Usually, it is done to fill a drop-off, to widen the road a little, to reinstate the ditch for proper drainage or to pull in gravel to the center that has washed off the road.
Even more abstract is when we scrape off a few inches so the shoulders can freeze up. Unfrozen shoulders can mean disaster if our plow digs in and changes the direction of the truck. Even though we have some control over the right-of-way, we are not a law enforcement agency. We get complaints that vehicles are going too fast, too loud, too early in the morning, etc. If you have a problem of this nature, then please call the Sheriff's Department or the State Police. We do have a weighmaster who can issue tickets for overweight vehicles on our roads.
Monday, May 1, 2006 8:27 AM