Massachusetts law about roads and streets

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on roads and streets law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

Private Ways

Scenic Roads

Selected case law

Manor Avenue LLC v. Fontanella, 74 Mass. App. Ct. 155 (2009)
Discusses circumstances under which rights in a paper street may be eliminated

Myer v. Veolia Energy, N.A., 482 Mass. 208 (2019)
Don't need 30 days' notice to private party. "the road defect and notice statutes apply to governmental and quasi governmental actors responsible for the public duty of maintaining the public way, and not to a private party such as Veolia that has created a particular defect in the way. ...  Consequently, Veolia may be sued for its own negligence without providing thirty days' notice.

Web sources

Crash Rate Information, Mass. Highway Department
The "most current crash rates available for use in Massachusetts, as well as the procedures for calculating crash rates and the standard crash rate form to be used for all submissions to MassHighway."

Discontinuing Town and County Roads, Trustees of Reservations Highland Communities Initiative, 2003.
This document "presents the current state of the law, as well as the issues and decisions with which towns are presented when considering road discontinuance. It also attempts to clarify areas of confusion that commonly arise," with references to relevant cases and statutes.

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), Federal Highway Administration, 2009 edition
MUTCD defines the standards used nationwide to install and maintain the signs, signals, and pavement markings on all streets and highways. See also: Massachusetts Amendments to the 2009 MUTCD (2012).

MassHighway Manuals
Extensive list of manuals, primarily on construction, including bridges, speed zoning, surveying and more

Massachusetts Construction Standard Details, Mass. Highway Department, 2017
This 141-page manual includes the smallest details of highway construction in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Streets and Ways for Surveyors, by F. Sydney Smithers, Esq., 2011
This 78-page document provides a lengthy discussion of public & private ways in Massachusetts including establishment and maintenance of ways, installation of utilities, easements, discontinuance and subdivision control. Includes detailed references to cases and statutes.

Project Development and Design Guide, Mass. Highway Dept., January 2006
Includes standard road design elements, as well as aesthetic and wildlife considerations. According to the site, this manual "serves as a national model for developing better road and bridge projects."

Print sources

Municipal Law and Practice (Mass. Practice v.18B), West Group, with supplement, s.23.5
Discusses all aspects of private ways.

Road and access law: researching and resolving common disputes, NBI, 2011.



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: May 20, 2019