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Highway

Abandonment, Alteration, And Vacation

The right of the public to use a highway may be forfeited by abandonment. Nonuse might be considered ABANDONMENT under statutory provisions. The evidence that a highway is in such a dangerous state of disrepair for a number of years that the public stops using it and a county fails to repair it constitutes abandonment in some jurisdictions. Where provided by statute, delay in opening a highway might be regarded as abandonment if it extends over an unreasonable length of time.

An alteration of a highway ordinarily refers to a change in its course that the state may effect in exercise of its POLICE POWER. A proceeding for a change or alteration in a public road generally will not be brought unless the change will further safety, convenience, or other public interests.

Vacation of a highway occurs when its existence is terminated by the direct action of public officials. The authority to vacate is generally delegated to the appropriate authorities or local agencies. Certain statutes make the provision that highways may be vacated by a vote of the town in a town meeting. Ordinarily, highways cannot be vacated unless they are useless, inconvenient, or burdensome, and the grounds are usually regulated by statutes. A highway that has been laid out but not constructed may be discontinued due to a change of circumstances, such as where a variation in traffic patterns makes the proposed highway unnecessary.

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