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Private Road Maintenance

Updated June 15, 2017

In many rural areas, people own homes, camps, and various getaways that are far removed from town and city traffic. Some of these properties are so far off the beaten path that the local governments no longer take responsibility for the access road. Private road maintenance requires time and some resources, but by accounting for some important considerations, you too will have a game plan in no time.

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One of the most important factors when maintaining a private road is the material the road is made of. While asphalt can allow you to have the smoothest road possible, it is rarely cost-effective for anything other than a very short private road. On the other end of the spectrum is plain dirt, which tends to become a real mess in the presence of severe weather. A good compromise is gravel, which is relatively cheap and offers traction as well.

If you live in an area that has a cold winter, the road will require regular grading after every year's thaw to recondition it. Grading is the process of changing the road's shape and condition to suit your needs. It is generally handled by professional grading vehicles, although similar but less thorough results can be achieved by dragging a weighted length of chain-length fence over the roadway.

It will also be necessary to do regular drives down the road to look for problems. Potholes, divots, and pits that are not fixed by grading will likely need to be filled in individually. Fallen trees, low-hanging branches, dead animals, and other undesired debris will need to be removed to make the road accessible.


Private roads are sometimes common access points to several properties. Generally, the common users of the private road will enter into a private road maintenance agreement. Sometimes the road users are obligated to join in an agreement by a local ordinance. Agreements should document the names of involved parties, respective responsibilities and obligations, and penalties for failure to meet them.

Further, agreements help protect all members in the matters of legal responsibilities. Individual easement agreements for upgrades to the private road are also often handled in a maintenance agreement.

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