County Roads

Basic Information

“County road” is a designation quite different in Massachusetts than in most of the country. Here, city and town borders are contiguous, encompassing even rural agricultural land, and all roads are maintained by either the state or by the municipality. Nevertheless, some roads are important to more than one town, so the authority to make changes to those roads was vested with the regional entity. Those roads were designated “county roads” and county governments have held title, as well as the authority to grant easements, takings, relocations, and discontinuances.

In Hampshire County that authority now rests with the Hampshire Council of Governments (COG), the successor to the former Hampshire County government. Because some areas of the state did not establish a successor entity, there are areas of the state with no regional authority to make changes to county roads. Legislation to correct that situation is now before the legislature after a lengthy collaboration by the Hampshire and the Franklin Regional COGs, the Legislature, the Division of Capital Asset Management, and the state association of Regional Planning Authorities.

To Discontinue, Abandon, or Relocate a County Road

Only the Hampshire Council of Governments can discontinue, abandon, or relocate county roads located in Hampshire County. However, they must first receive a written petition requesting action; they do not initiate action on their own motion. The Councilors in turn notify the abutters, advertise in local newspapers, and post notices in public places of the time and place for a view and hearing of the road being petitioned. The expenses are borne by the petitioner requesting a change. For a PDF file of the procedures, click here: Discontinuing Town and County Roads by Lynn Rubenstein and Alexandra Dawson.

Important issues of access and property value are involved in any road action. In addition, the costs of engineering and survey costs can be substantial. Issues of access and property value suggest that property owners may wish to obtain the advice of independent professionals versed in local property and roads laws.

Archives of County Roads Records

Records dating to the beginnings of Hampshire County in 1662 are maintained in the Council archives. These include maps of county roads - filed by town, and dockets of actions - filed by date. The public may search the county records during the COGs regular business hours. Please note that Council staff does not perform searches. Indices coordinating the maps and actions help researchers locate relevant documents.

Map of Hampshire County Roads

(Click map for larger version)

Highway Indices

Select a town or city to see details of county highways.  The numbers on these indices coincide with the maps.

For further information, see Discontinuing Town and County Roads by Lynn Rubinstein and Alexandra Dawson, Esq., 2003, or visit www.mass.gov for access to the Massachusetts General Laws.