Johnathan Croft, VTrans – Johnathan.Croft@state.vt.us
The first milestone of Act 178 of 2006 – the “Ancient Roads Law” recently passed, being July 1, 2010 and the creation of a new highway category called “unidentified corridors.” The current category of class 4 town highways will be split into 2 parts, one remaining as class 4 town highways and the other being “unidentified corridors.” This new category and former part of class 4 constitutes legally established town highways that are not clearly observable as highways or trails on the landscape. These invisible roads will exist until the next major milestone in the process, July 1, 2015 when the category of “unidentified corridors” are discontinued by statute, unless acted upon by the legislative bodies in each municipality.
As a means to avoid the creation of “unidentified corridors,” many municipalities submitted changes on the 2010 Certificate of Highway Mileage, adding these highways as class 4 town highways, or reclassifying them to legal trail. The VTrans Mapping Unit on average processes 55 Mileage Certificates per year, constituting approximately 100 changes. This year has been significantly busier, with 97 municipalities submitting changes and prompting more than 400 changes.
Some municipalities have availed themselves of another provision in statute from Act 178 of 2006, and this is mass discontinuance, which allows for all highways that will become “unidentified corridors” to be mass discontinued in a single process. To date, VTrans has received information that 10 towns have completed the process and 5 were in the middle of the process. Municipalities have until July 1, 2010 to complete the mass discontinuance process, because after that point, this provision is no longer available.
There continues to be a lot of activity on ancient roads at many levels. There were 2 bills introduced in the House of Representatives related to ancient roads, H.469 and H.679. Each bill was sent to the House Transportation Committee where the bills were read and not acted upon, so no changes were made to the ancient road legislation this year. Annually, VTrans provides a report to the Legislature regarding the effectiveness of Act 178 of 2006 and provides means to improve the effectiveness of the act. These reports can be found on-line at –
The creation of a new category of highways is upon us and a new phase of the ancient road process. Municipalities have worked extremely hard to research and map their highways and trails, and this effort is expected to continue for several more years. VTrans continues to incorporate changes to the road centerline data and has added 95.17 miles of class 4 and 78.52 miles of legal trails this year, plus made numerous other updates as a result of Act 178 of 2006.