Maine Alliance for Road Associations
Maine, State and Local government committee is having a public hearing on April 24, tomorrow on LD 1536. In attempt to use my own words to describe it while it may be described differently:
It's about changing the requirements from towns on abandoned or discontinued roads. It has in the bill that if the road can't be classified as a abandoned road it will require towns to call it a public easement and PROVIDE maintenance. Go to Maine Roadway's facebook for more information.
That's an over-simplification - but you couldn't be expected to give an accurate summary of a complex bill in one sentence! L.D. 1536 would help clarify some conditions that would prohibit a town from claiming abandonment of a road. Abandonment is supposed to apply to roads that have been forgotten and have had no significant public maintenance for 30 years. A road should be ineligible for abandonment if the Town has been telling the DOT they maintain it, so as to be able to collect more state funding based on that road's mileage. Also, a town should not be able to cease maintenance with the intent of abandoning a road at a future date. The only way to legally stop maintaining a road is to go through the formal discontinuance process. Thanks to an amendment to 23 MRSA 3026-A that went through last year, there is now a process for getting rid of public rights to freely use a road the public no longer maintains, by establishing private rights in common. L.D 1536 would change last year's amendment from saying the town MAY give up public rights if private rights in common are established, to saying the town MUST give up the public rights. L.D. 1536 also allows extinguishment of the public easement that remains in an abandoned road, by going through the discontinuance process in 3026-A, creating private rights in common. In the case of roads that are abandoned or discontinued where the abutters are unable to reach an agreement to grant each other mutual access, 23 MRSA 3026-A currently requires the retention of a public easement to prevent any property from becoming land locked. The trouble is, public easements currently allow unrestricted public motor vehicular travel, which places an unfair burden on the private individuals who are left with the expense and liability of maintenance. L.D. 1536 would say that the Town must designate the public purpose for which the public is retaining the easement, and provide sufficient maintenance to support that public use.
The Maine Alliance for Road Associations