What’s the Difference Between Public and Private Roads in North Carolina?

If you’re looking at purchasing a piece of property, it’s important to consider what kind of road its connected to, and whether that road is public or private. Which type or road it is will determine how it’s maintained, and who pays for that maintenance.

Many subdivisions in NC will have private roads that are either maintained by the Home Owners Association, or there may a road maintenance agreement with the local town or city government. In both scenarios, the people living on those roads are required to pay a set amount of money in contribution to the maintenance of the road. The cost may be distributed evenly across all the HOA members, or it may be shared in part with the local government.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation isn’t going to foot the bill for maintenance on every road that gets paved if there isn’t a clear benefit to it’s residents. New neighborhoods will be responsible for their own roads until enough people have moved in, creating a substantial tax base, that the government will be willing to take over. The trouble lies in the construction quality of the road in question.

Only roads that meet the standard of construction set by the government will be considered for public maintenance. If the neighborhood builder followed these standards when paving the roads, there shouldn’t be much of a problem in getting the NCDOT to take over once the neighborhood is sufficiently occupied. Unfortunately, some builders, in an attempt to save money, pave roads that don’t meet those standards, which means the state won’t be interested in paying for the upkeep on a poorly constructed road. This leaves the high cost of either regularly maintaining, or repaving the roads to proper standard, in the hands of the residents.