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Funding of Upgrading Private Roads to VDOT System

Funding of Upgrading Private Roads to VDOT System

Across Virginia, citizens often call county offices asking that the maintenance of their private road be taken over by VDOT, known as “rural additions” to the VDOT system.  The cost to upgrade private roads to VDOT standards is usually significant.

In response to a request from county stakeholders, HRTPO staff gathered information on rural additions from a) staff of Virginia counties, b) VDOT staff, c) VDOT documents, and d) Virginia code to prepare a report for county boards and staff with options for funding and responding to citizens’ requests.

Map of Virginia with counties contacted for this study shaded in gray on the map

FIGURE 1   Counties (70) Contacted for this Study


Hiring a surveyor to prepare right-of-way dedication plats, hiring an engineer to design roadway upgrades, and hiring a contractor to construct the designed improvements can cost large sums of money.  This amount of money being difficult for rural counties—not to mention a handful of citizens—to raise, staff investigated sources of funds, finding these three:

  • Funding from VDOT
  • County general funds
  • Funding from landowners

Details of these funds can be found in the report.

Processing Citizen Requests

In addition to researching funding sources, staff also investigated several options for handling citizen requests for private roads to be made public.

Addressing the Difficulties of Upgrading

County staff can prevent time being spent by citizens and staff on unsuccessful private-to-public conversion attempts by responding to citizen conversion requests by addressing with them these three difficulties:

  • private property dedication requirements
  • private funding requirements
  • the frequency of success in upgrading private roads

In general, due to funding limitations, it appears that the vast majority of citizens who desire for their private road to be accepted into the VDOT system fail to do so. Although many counties have seen no successes in recent years, a few counties have seen some successes.

Map of Virginia Indicating Recent Successes: Counties with Some Success (shaded in Green) and Counties with None (shaded in Red)

FIGURE 2  Recent Successes: Counties with Some Success (Green) and Counties with None (Red)

Other Options

Several counties provide non-monetary aid to citizens attempting to upgrade private roads. For example, some counties prepare deeds of dedication, and others set up on-site meetings with homeowners and VDOT.

In some instances, counties with a policy/practice of assisting citizens in upgrading private roads decide which citizens to help first. For example, York County’s “Dirt Street Improvement Program” prioritizes roads with more landowners per mile.

In summary, although most desires for upgrading private roads to the VDOT system are unfulfilled, the above-detailed options for responding to citizen requests can benefit both county staff and citizens, and the above-discussed funding opportunities can lead to success.

The full report summarizing the HRTPO effort is available here.

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