New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

What is the width of road right-of-way?

The width of roads right-of-way in New York State can be difficult to determine, especially in the case of user roads. The case law for the 1 paragraph of Section 189 goes on for 28 pages in McKinney's.

Tuedo road - rehabilitated road

As a good rule of thumb, the following works pretty well:

  1. If there is a deed or other paperwork filed with the County or Town Clerk, that is the right-of-way (ROW), otherwise...
  2. The ROW is what the highway department maintains on roads used by the public (and has been maintained at least ten years)

Do not use surveyor notes or tax maps as they are not going to carry the day in court. Only paperwork filed with an official Clerk really counts.


The Office of Town Highway Superintendent (2005)
Association of Towns of the State of New York

Cover of the Powers and Duties workbook

Powers and Duties of Local Highway Officials (pdf 6.6MB). CLRP workshop manual





McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York.
Published by West GroupWest Headquarters,
610 Opperman Drive,
Eagan, MN 55123
1-800-WESTLAW (1-800-937-8529)

What is the definition of a highway?
CLRP Quick Answer

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.