Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 33.2. Highways and Other Surface Transportation Systems
Subtitle II. Modes of Transportation: Highways, Bridges, Ferries, Rail, and Public Transportation
Chapter 9. Abandonment and Discontinuance of Highways and Roads
11/27/2022

Chapter 9. Abandonment and Discontinuance of Highways and Roads.

Article 1. Abandonment and Discontinuance of Highways in Primary State Highway System.

§ 33.2-900. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Abandonment" means that the public's right to use a public highway, public landing, or public crossing has been extinguished.

"Discontinuance" means that the Board has determined that a highway, landing, or crossing no longer serves the public convenience warranting its maintenance at public expense; it divests the Department from maintenance responsibilities. Discontinuance does not render a highway, landing, or crossing unavailable for public use.

2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-901. Discontinuance of a section of a highway or railroad crossing.

In any case in which a section of a highway is deemed by the Commissioner of Highways no longer necessary for the uses of the primary state highway system, or when, in laying out, constructing, or maintaining sections of highways in the primary state highway system, a part of a highway has been or is straightened or the location of a part of it is altered and a section of the highway is deemed by the Commissioner of Highways no longer necessary for the uses of the primary state highway system, the Commissioner of Highways, by and with the approval of the Board, may discontinue such section of the highway as a part of the primary state highway system. In addition, in any case in which an existing crossing by such highway of the lines of a railroad company or a crossing by the lines of a railroad company of such highway is deemed by the Commissioner of Highways no longer necessary as a part of the primary state highway system, the Commissioner of Highways, by and with the approval of the Board, may discontinue such crossing as a part of the primary state highway system. Discontinuance under this section does not constitute an abandonment of such highway as a public highway or such crossing as a public crossing unless the procedure conforms to § 33.2-902.

The opening of the new section of highway by the Commissioner of Highways and the entry by the Board upon its minutes of its approval of the discontinuance of the section of the highway or the railroad crossing shall be sufficient to constitute such discontinuance.

Code 1950, § 33-76.1; 1950, p. 727; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-144; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-902. Abandonment of highway or railroad crossing; procedure.

A. The Commissioner of Highways either on his own motion or upon petition of any interested landowner may cause any section of a highway in the primary state highway system, or any crossing by such highway of the lines of a railroad company or crossing by the lines of a railroad company of such highway, to be abandoned altogether as a public highway or as a public crossing by complying substantially with the procedure provided in this section.

B. The Commissioner of Highways or any interested landowner may file application with the Board setting out the section of the highway or the railroad crossing sought to be abandoned as a public highway or public railroad crossing. The Board shall give notice of the filing of the application (i) by posting a notice of such application at least three days before the first day of a regular term of the circuit court at the front door of the courthouse of the county in which the section of the highway or railroad crossing sought to be abandoned as a public highway or public railroad crossing is located, or if the section of the highway or the railroad crossing is located partly in two or more counties, at the front door of the courthouse of each county, or (ii) by publishing a notice of such application in two or more issues of a newspaper published in the county or one of the counties in which the section of the highway or the crossing is located. The Board shall also send by registered mail a notice of the application to the governing body of the county or counties. If such highway or railroad crossing is in a town with a population of 3,500 or less, the Board shall give notice to the governing body of the town in the same manner as notice is required to be given to the governing body of the county in which the town is located.

C. If one or more landowners in the county or counties affected by such proposed abandonment or the governing body of a county or town in which the highway or railroad crossing is located files a petition with the Board within 30 days after notice is posted or published and mailed as provided in this section, the Board or a representative thereof shall hold a public hearing in the county or one of the counties for consideration of the application and shall give notice of the time and place of the hearing by publishing such information in at least two issues in a newspaper having general circulation in the county or one of the counties and by mailing notice of the hearing to the governing body of the county or counties, and if applicable to the governing body of the town, in which the highway or railroad crossing is located.

D. If a petition for a public hearing is not filed as provided in this section, or if after a public hearing is held a majority of the Board is satisfied that no public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of highway as a public highway or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing or that the welfare of the public would be served best by abandoning the section of highway or the railroad crossing as a public highway or public railroad crossing, the Board shall (i) within four months of the 30-day period during which notice was posted where no petition for a public hearing was filed or (ii) within four months after the public hearing enter an order on its minutes abandoning the section of highway as a public highway or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing, and with that order the section of highway shall cease to be a public highway, unless the local governing body takes control as provided in this article, or the railroad crossing shall cease to be a public railroad crossing. If the Board is not so satisfied, it shall enter an order dismissing the application within the applicable four months provided in this subsection.

E. In considering the abandonment of any section of highway under the provisions of this section, due consideration shall be given to the historic value, if any, of such highway.

Code 1950, § 33-76.2; 1950, p. 727; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-145; 1978, c. 187; 1980, c. 39; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-903. Grade crossing closing and safety.

A. It is the public policy of the Commonwealth to enhance public safety by establishing safe highway-rail grade crossings, to consolidate and close unsafe, unnecessary, or redundant crossings, and to limit the establishment of new crossings. The Board has the authority to close public highway-rail grade crossings on all systems of state highways for which it has responsibility.

B. The Commissioner of Highways on his own motion or by request of any interested landowner, railroad corporation, or local governing body may petition the Board to close a highway-rail grade crossing as a public crossing.

C. Prior to petitioning the Board to close a highway-rail grade crossing, the Commissioner of Highways shall conduct a traffic engineering study to determine the validity of closing the crossing. The traffic engineering study shall consider all factors, including (i) the number of freight and passenger trains passing the crossing and their timetable speeds, (ii) the distance to an alternate crossing, (iii) the availability of alternate access, (iv) the crossing's accident history during the five-year period immediately prior to the study, (v) the number of vehicles per day using the crossing, (vi) the posted speed limit at the crossing, (vii) the type of warning devices present at the crossing, (viii) the alignment of the roadway and railroad and their angle of intersection, (ix) the number of trucks per day carrying hazardous materials through the crossing, (x) the number of vehicles per day carrying passengers for hire through the crossing, (xi) the number of school buses per day using the crossing, and (xii) the use of the crossing by emergency vehicles.

D. The results of the traffic engineering study shall be made public in accordance with the procedures set forth in § 33.2-902. The Commissioner of Highways shall present his findings and recommendations to the Board, and the Board shall decide what actions to take regarding the railroad crossing at issue.

1996, cc. 114, 157, § 33.1-145.1; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-904. Effect of abandonment.

In the case of abandonment of a section of highway or a railroad crossing that is part of the primary state highway system under the provisions of this article, such section of highway or such railroad crossing shall not thereafter be a public highway or public railroad crossing unless conveyed to the county or town and subject to the authority of the local governing body. In the case of proceedings for abandonment of any section of highway, not including a railroad crossing situated less than one and one-half miles from another public crossing over the same railroad, as a public highway under the provisions of this article, the local governing body, insofar as such section of highway is located within the county of such governing body, shall have authority to take over such section of highway, not including the railroad crossing, and maintain it as a public highway. However, the local governing body shall adopt an ordinance or resolution to that effect and to give notice thereof to the Commissioner of Highways within 30 days from the posting or publishing and mailing of the notice of the application for the abandonment of such section of highway as a public highway as provided in this article.

Code 1950, § 33-76.3; 1950, p. 728; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-146; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-905. Appeal to circuit court.

A. Any one or more of the landowners who filed a petition, the governing body of any county or town in which the section of highway or the railroad crossing is wholly or partly located, or the Commissioner of Highways may within 30 days from the entry of the order by the Board appeal from the order to the circuit court of the county in which the section of highway or the railroad crossing, or the major portion thereof, sought to be abandoned under § 33.2-902 is located. If the Board fails to enter an order pursuant to § 33.2-902, such person or persons named in this section may appeal to the appropriate circuit court within 30 days from such failure. Such appeal shall be filed by petition in the clerk's office of such court, setting out the order appealed from or the cause appealed from where no order was entered and the grounds of such appeal. Upon the filing of such petition, the clerk of the circuit court shall docket the appeal, giving it a preferred status. If the appeal is by any of the landowners who filed a petition with the Board for a public hearing, notice of such appeal shall be served upon the attorney for the Commonwealth and the Commissioner of Highways. If the appeal is by the local governing body or the Commissioner of Highways, notice of such appeal shall be served upon the landowners who filed petition with the Board for a public hearing. No such appeal shall be tried by the court within 10 days after notice is given as provided in this section unless such notice is waived. The circuit court shall hear the matter de novo with further right of appeal as provided by law. Upon the hearing of the appeal, the court shall ascertain and by its order determine whether public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of highway or the railroad crossing as a public highway or public railroad crossing or whether the welfare of the public will be served best by abandoning the section of the highway or the railroad crossing as a public highway or public railroad crossing and shall enter its order accordingly. The clerk of the court shall certify a copy of the order of the court to the Board.

B. Upon any such appeal, if it appears to the court that by the abandonment of such section of highway or such railroad crossing as a public highway or public railroad crossing any party to such appeal would be deprived of access to a public highway, the court may cause the railroad company or the local governing body to be made parties to the proceedings, if not already parties, and may enter such orders as seem just and proper for keeping open such section of highway or such railroad crossing for the benefit of such party or parties.

C. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any discontinuance of a portion of the primary state highway system under § 33.2-901.

Code 1950, § 33-76.4; 1950, p. 729; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-147; 1978, c. 187; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-906. Alternative procedure for abandonment of old highway or railroad crossing to extent of alteration.

The Commissioner of Highways may declare any highway in the primary state highway system or any highway in the primary state highway system containing a highway-rail grade crossing abandoned when (i) it has been or is altered and a new highway that serves the same users as the old highway is constructed as a replacement and approved by the Commissioner of Highways or (ii) the Chief Engineer of the Department recommends that it is appropriate in connection with the completion of a construction or maintenance project. The old highways or the crossing may be abandoned to the extent of such alteration, but no further, by the entry by the Commissioner of Highways of such abandonment upon the records of the Department.

Code 1950, § 33-76.5; 1950, p. 730; 1952, c. 124; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-148; 2011, cc. 36, 152; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-907. Conveying sections of highways or other property no longer necessary.

A. Whenever a highway or a section of a highway has been abandoned in accordance with the provisions of § 33.2-902 or 33.2-906 and is deemed by the Commissioner of Highways no longer necessary for the uses of the primary state highway system, the Commissioner of Highways shall so certify in writing and may execute in the name of the Commonwealth a deed or deeds conveying such section or sections of highway, either for consideration or in exchange for other lands that may be necessary for the uses of the primary state highway system. Before any such deed either for the sale or exchange of land is executed conveying any section of a highway along which any person resides, the Commissioner of Highways shall give notice to the governing bodies of the county and town and to the owner of the land upon which such person resides of the intention to convey the section of highway. If after a reasonable notice of such intention any such landowner or local governing body so requests, a hearing shall be ordered by the Commissioner of Highways as provided in this article. If upon such hearing it is determined that such section of highway should be left open for the reasonable convenience of such landowner or the public, then such section of highway shall not be conveyed. No such hearing shall be held if such highway was abandoned under § 33.2-902.

B. When real estate acquired incidental to the construction, reconstruction, alteration, maintenance, and repair of the primary state highway system that does not constitute a section of the public highway is deemed by the Commissioner of Highways no longer necessary for the uses of the primary state highway system, the Commissioner of Highways shall so certify in writing and may execute in the name of the Commonwealth a deed conveying such real estate, interest therein, or any portion thereof, either for consideration or in exchange for other lands that may be necessary for the uses of the primary state highway system.

C. Upon petition of a local governing body, the Board may transfer real estate acquired incidental to the construction, reconstruction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of the primary state highway system that constitutes a section of public highway to the local governing body, and upon such transfer such section of highway shall cease being a part of the primary state highway system.

Code 1950, § 33-76.6; 1950, p. 730; 1954, c. 88; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-149; 2002, c. 445; 2011, cc. 36, 152; 2014, c. 805.

Article 2. Abandonment and Discontinuance of Highways in Secondary State Highway System.

§ 33.2-908. Discontinuance of highway, landing, or railroad crossing; procedure.

A. For the purposes of this article, "landing" means a place on a river or other navigable body of water for loading or unloading goods or for the reception and delivery of travelers, the terminus of a highway on a river or other navigable body of water for loading or unloading goods or for the reception and delivery of travelers, or a place for loading or unloading watercraft, but not a harbor for watercraft.

B. Upon petition of the governing body of any county in which a highway, landing, or railroad crossing is located or upon petition of the governing body of a town with a population of 3,500 or less, or on its own motion, the Board may discontinue any highway, landing, or railroad crossing in the secondary state highway system as a part thereof in any case in which the Board deems such highway, landing, or railroad crossing not required for public convenience. If the Board on its own motion desires to discontinue any such highway, landing, or railroad crossing, the Board shall give notice to the affected governing body at least 30 days prior to such discontinuance. In addition, in cases where only a highway or landing or the maintenance thereof is to be discontinued, the Board shall give notice of such intention to the public at least 30 days prior to such action by publishing such notice in at least one issue in a newspaper having general circulation in the county in which the affected highway or landing is situated and, where practicable, by a registered letter to each landowner whose property abuts the section of highway or landing to be discontinued. For the purposes of this section, the Board may, where practicable, rely upon the tax records of the county to determine the names and addresses of such owners. These additional notice provisions shall not be required in cases where the section of highway to be discontinued has been replaced by a new highway serving the same users. If the governing body of any county or town requests a hearing, or upon petition of any landowner whose property abuts a highway or landing that is to be discontinued, the Board shall hold a hearing in the county in which the highway, landing, or railroad crossing is located in order to ascertain whether or not such highway, landing, or railroad crossing should be discontinued. From the finding of the Board, an appeal shall lie to the circuit court of the county in which such highway, landing, or railroad crossing is located and the procedure thereon shall conform to the procedure prescribed in § 33.2-905. The jurisdiction and procedure for abandonment of highways and landings discontinued as parts of the secondary state highway system in accordance with this article shall remain in the local governing bodies.

C. In cases where the Chief Engineer of the Department recommends that it is appropriate in connection with the completion of a construction or maintenance project to discontinue any highway, landing, or railroad crossing in the secondary state highway system, the Commissioner of Highways may discontinue such highway, landing, or railroad crossing as he deems proper. The entry by the Commissioner of Highways upon the records of the Department of the discontinuance shall be sufficient to constitute such discontinuance.

Code 1950, § 33-76.7; 1950, p. 731; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-150; 1978, c. 337; 1981, c. 323; 2011, cc. 36, 152; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-909. Abandonment of highway, landing, or railroad crossing; procedure.

A. The governing body of any county on its own motion or upon petition of any interested landowner may cause any section of the secondary state highway system, or any crossing by the highway of the lines of a railroad company or crossing by the lines of a railroad company of the highway, deemed by it to be no longer necessary for the uses of the secondary state highway system to be abandoned altogether as a public highway, a public landing, or a public railroad crossing by complying substantially with the procedure provided in this section.

B. The governing body of the county shall give notice of its intention to abandon any such highway, landing, or railroad crossing (i) by posting a notice of such intention at least three days before the first day of a regular term of the circuit court at the front door of the courthouse of the county in which the section of the highway, landing, or railroad crossing sought to be abandoned as a public highway, public landing, or public railroad crossing is located or (ii) by posting notice in at least three places on and along the highway, landing, or railroad crossing sought to be abandoned for at least 30 days and in either case by publishing notice of its intention in two or more issues of a newspaper having general circulation in the county. In addition, the governing body of the county shall give notice of its intention to abandon such highway, landing, or railroad crossing to the Board or the Commissioner of Highways. In any case in which the highway, landing, or railroad crossing proposed to be abandoned lies in two or more counties, the governing bodies of such counties shall not abandon such highway, landing, or railroad crossing unless and until all affected governing bodies agree. The procedure in such cases shall conform mutatis mutandis to the procedure prescribed for the abandonment of a highway, landing, or railroad crossing located entirely within a county.

When the governing body of a county gives notice of intention to abandon a public landing, the governing body shall also give such notice to the Department of Wildlife Resources.

C. If one or more landowners in the county whose property abuts the highway, landing, or railroad crossing proposed to be abandoned, or if only a section of a highway, landing, or railroad crossing is proposed to be abandoned, whose property abuts such section, or the Board or the Department of Wildlife Resources, in the case of a public landing, files a petition with the governing body of the county within 30 days after notice is posted and published as provided in this section, the governing body of the county shall hold a public hearing on the proposed abandonment and shall give notice of the time and place of the hearing by publishing such information in at least two issues in a newspaper having general circulation in the county and shall also give notice to the Board or, if a public landing is sought to be abandoned, to the Department of Wildlife Resources.

D. If a petition for a public hearing is not filed as provided in this section, or if after a public hearing is held the governing body of the county is satisfied that no public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of the secondary highway as a public highway or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing or the landing as a public landing or that the safety and welfare of the public would be served best by abandoning the section of highway, the landing, or the railroad crossing as a public highway, public landing, or public railroad crossing, the governing body of the county shall (i) within four months of the 30-day period during which notice was posted where no petition for a public hearing was filed or (ii) within four months after the public hearing adopt an ordinance or resolution abandoning the section of highway as a public highway, or the landing as a public landing, or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing, and with that ordinance or resolution the section of highway shall cease to be a public highway, a public landing, or a public railroad crossing. If the governing body is not so satisfied, it shall dismiss the application within the applicable four months provided in this subsection.

E. A finding by the governing body of a county that a section of the secondary state highway system is no longer necessary for the uses of the secondary state highway system may be made if the following conditions exist:

1. The highway is located within a residence district as defined in § 46.2-100;

2. The residence district is located within a county having a density of population exceeding 1,000 per square mile;

3. Continued operation of the section of highway in question constitutes a threat to the public safety and welfare; and

4. Alternate routes for use after abandonment of the highway are readily available.

F. In considering the abandonment of any section of highway under the provisions of this section, due consideration shall be given to the historic value, if any, of such highway.

G. Any ordinance or resolution of abandonment issued in compliance with this section shall give rise in subsequent proceedings, if any, to a presumption of adequate justification for the abandonment.

H. No public landing shall be abandoned unless the Board of Wildlife Resources shall by resolution concur in such abandonment.

Code 1950, § 33-76.8; 1950, p. 731; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-151; 1975, c. 255; 1978, c. 187; 1980, c. 39; 1981, c. 323; 1990, c. 190; 2014, c. 805; 2020, c. 958.

§ 33.2-910. Appeal to circuit court.

Any one or more of the landowners whose property abuts the highway, landing, or railroad crossing proposed to be abandoned, or if only a section of a highway, landing, or railroad crossing is proposed to be abandoned, whose property abuts such section of the highway, landing, or railroad crossing, and who petitioned for a public hearing under § 33.2-909 or the Commissioner of Highways, or if a public landing is proposed to be abandoned, the Director of the Department of Wildlife Resources, may within 30 days from the adoption of an ordinance or resolution by the governing body of the county appeal from the ordinance or resolution to the circuit court of the county in which the section of highway, the public landing, or the railroad crossing sought to be abandoned under § 33.2-909 is located. Where the governing body of the county fails to adopt an ordinance or resolution pursuant to § 33.2-909, such person or persons named in this section shall within 30 days from such failure have a right of appeal to the appropriate circuit court. Such appeal shall be filed by petition in the clerk's office of such court, setting out the ordinance or resolution appealed from or the cause appealed from where no ordinance or resolution was adopted and the grounds of such appeal. Upon the filing of such petition, the clerk of the circuit court shall docket the appeal, giving it a preferred status, and if the appeal is by any of the landowners who filed a petition with the governing body of the county for a public hearing, notice of such appeal shall be served upon each member of the governing body of the county pursuant to § 8.01-300 and either the Commissioner of Highways or the Director of the Department of Wildlife Resources, as applicable, and if the appeal is by either the Commissioner of Highways or the Director of the Department of Wildlife Resources, notice of such appeal shall be served upon the governing body of the county and the landowners who filed petition with the governing body of the county for a public hearing. No such appeal shall be tried by the court within 10 days after notice is given, as provided in this section unless such notice is waived. The circuit court shall decide the appeal based upon the record and upon such other evidence as may be presented by the parties. Upon the hearing of the appeal, the court shall ascertain and by its order determine whether adequate justification exists for the decision of the governing body of the county that public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of highway, landing, or the railroad crossing as a public highway, public landing, or public railroad crossing or whether the welfare of the public will be served best by abandoning the section of the highway, landing, or the railroad crossing as a public highway, public landing, or public railroad crossing and shall enter its order accordingly.

Upon any such appeal, if it appears to the court that by the abandonment of such section of highway, landing, or railroad crossing as a public highway, public landing, or public railroad crossing any party to such appeal would be deprived of access to a public highway, the court may cause the railroad company and the governing body of the county, or either, to be made parties to the proceedings, if not already parties, and may enter such orders as seem just and proper for keeping open such section of highway, landing, or railroad crossing for the benefit of such party or parties.

Code 1950, § 33-76.9; 1950, p. 732; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-152; 1978, c. 187; 1981, c. 323; 1990, c. 190; 2014, c. 805; 2020, c. 958.

§ 33.2-911. Permissible uses by counties of certain discontinued secondary highways.

Whenever a secondary highway is discontinued under § 33.2-908, the highway shall continue to be available for use by the public as a highway, unless it has been abandoned pursuant to this chapter or its use has been modified by an ordinance adopted pursuant to this section. The governing body of the county may by ordinance provide for use of a discontinued highway for any of the following purposes: (i) hiking or bicycle trails and paths or other nonvehicular transportation and recreation; (ii) greenway corridors for resource protection and biodiversity enhancement, with or without public ingress and egress; and (iii) access to historic, cultural, and educational sites.

1993, c. 349, § 33.1-152.1; 2011, c. 129; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-912. Alternative procedure for abandonment of old highway or crossing to extent of alteration.

The Commissioner of Highways may declare any highway in the secondary state highway system or any highway in the secondary state highway system containing a highway-rail grade crossing abandoned when (i) it has been or is altered and a new highway that serves the same users as the old highway is constructed as a replacement and approved by the Commissioner of Highways or (ii) the Chief Engineer of the Department recommends that it is appropriate in connection with the completion of a construction or maintenance project. The old highway or the public crossing may be abandoned to the extent of such alteration, but no further, by the entry by the Commissioner of Highways of such abandonment upon the records of the Department.

Code 1950, § 33-76.12; 1950, p. 734; 1952, c. 127; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-155; 2011, cc. 36, 152; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-913. Conveying sections of highways, landings, or other property no longer necessary.

A. Whenever a secondary highway or landing has been abandoned in accordance with the provisions of § 33.2-909 or 33.2-910 or in accordance with § 33.2-912 and its use is no longer deemed necessary by the Commissioner of Highways, the Commissioner of Highways shall so certify in writing to the governing body of the county in which such highway or landing is located, and the governing body of the county or the Commissioner of Highways shall then be authorized to execute, in the name of the Commonwealth or the county, a deed or deeds conveying such section or sections of highway or such landing, either for consideration or in exchange for other lands that may be necessary for the uses of the secondary state highway system. Before any such deed either for the sale or exchange of land is executed conveying any section of a highway or landing along which any person resides, notice shall be given by the Commissioner of Highways or the governing body of the county and to the owner or owners of the land upon which such person resides of the intention to convey the section of highway or the landing and if after a reasonable notice of such intention any such landowner so requests, a hearing shall be ordered by the Commissioner of Highways or governing body of the county as provided in this article. If upon such hearing it is determined that such section of highway or landing should be kept open for the reasonable convenience of such landowner or the public, then such section of highway or landing shall not be conveyed.

Any such conveyance by the governing body of a county shall not be subject to § 15.2-1800.

B. When real estate acquired by the Commonwealth incidental to the construction, reconstruction, alteration, maintenance, and repair of the secondary state highway system does not constitute a section of a public highway and is deemed by the Commissioner of Highways no longer necessary for the uses of the secondary state highway system, the Commissioner of Highways shall so certify in writing and is authorized to execute in the name of the Commonwealth a deed or deeds conveying such real estate, interest therein, or any portion thereof, either for consideration or in exchange for other lands that may be necessary for the uses of the secondary state highway system.

C. Upon petition of a local governing body, the Board may transfer real estate acquired incidental to the construction, reconstruction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of the secondary state highway system that constitutes a section of public highway to the local governing body, and upon such transfer, such section of highway shall cease being a part of the secondary state highway system.

Any such conveyance shall be subject to approval of the Board by resolution and recorded in the minutes of the Board.

Code 1950, § 33-76.11; 1950, p. 733; 1956, c. 106; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-154; 1981, c. 323; 2002, c. 445; 2011, cc. 36, 152; 2014, c. 805.

Article 3. Abandonment of Roads Not in Primary or Secondary State Highway System.

§ 33.2-914. County roads not part of primary or secondary state highway system; definitions.

A. The provisions of this article shall apply mutatis mutandis to county roads maintained by a county and not part of the secondary state highway system and to roads dedicated to public use but that are not part of the primary or secondary state highway system.

B. For the purposes of this article:

"Governing body" means the governing body of a county.

"Road" includes streets and alleys dedicated to public use and any existing crossing by the lines of a railroad company of such road and a railroad crossing by such road of the lines of a railroad company.

Code 1950, § 33-76.13; 1950, p. 734; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-156; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-915. Abandonment of certain roads and railroad crossings by governing body.

A. When a section of a road not in the secondary state highway system, or an existing crossing by such road of the lines of a railroad company or a crossing by the lines of a railroad company of such road, is deemed by the governing body in which it is located to be no longer necessary for public use, the governing body may abandon such section of the road or such crossing by proceeding as prescribed in this article.

B. In considering the abandonment of any section of road under the provisions of this section, due consideration shall be given to the historic value, if any, of such road.

Code 1950, § 33-76.14; 1950, p. 734; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-157; 1978, c. 616; 1980, c. 39; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-916. Notice of proposed abandonment.

In the case of a proposed abandonment of a road not part of the primary or secondary state highway system, the governing body shall give at least 30 days' notice of its intention to do so by posting notice at the front door of the courthouse, by posting notices on at least three places along and visible from the road proposed to be abandoned, and by publishing notice in at least two issues in a newspaper having general circulation in the county. All such notices shall state the time and place at which the governing body will meet to consider the abandonment of such road.

Code 1950, § 33-76.15; 1950, p. 734; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-158; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-917. Petition for abandonment.

Any person desiring to have a road abandoned may petition the governing body to abandon such road by filing the petition and a reasonably accurate plat and description of the section proposed to be abandoned with the governing body and in the clerk's office of the county. The governing body may proceed to have such road abandoned as provided in this article, but the expenses shall be borne by the petitioner.

Code 1950, § 33-76.16; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-159; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-918. Petition for public hearing on proposed abandonment.

If one or more landowners affected by a proposed abandonment file a petition for a public hearing with the governing body within 30 days after notice is posted and published, the governing body shall hold a public hearing in the county for the consideration of the proposed abandonment.

Code 1950, § 33-76.17; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-160; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-919. Action of governing body.

If a petition for a public hearing is not filed as provided in § 33.2-918, or if after a public hearing is held the governing body is satisfied that no public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of road as a public road or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing or that the welfare of the public would be served best by abandoning the section of road or the railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing, the governing body shall (i) within four months of the 30-day period during which notice was posted where no petition for a public hearing was filed or (ii) within four months after the public hearing adopt an ordinance or resolution abandoning the section of road as a public road or the railroad crossing as a public railroad crossing, and with that ordinance or resolution the section of road shall cease to be a public road. If the governing body is not so satisfied, it shall dismiss the application within the applicable four months provided in this section.

Code 1950, § 33-76.18; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-161; 1978, c. 187; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-920. Appeal to circuit court.

Any one or more of the landowners who filed a petition or the governing body may within 30 days from the action of the governing body on the proposal appeal from the action of the governing body to the circuit court of the county. Where the governing body fails to adopt an ordinance or resolution pursuant to § 33.2-919, such person named in this section shall within 30 days from such failure have a right of appeal to the appropriate circuit court. Such appeal shall be filed by petition in the clerk's office of such court, setting out the action or inaction appealed from and the grounds for appeal. Upon the filing of such petition, the clerk of the circuit court shall docket the appeal, giving it a preferred status, and if the appeal is by any of the landowners who filed a petition with the governing body for a public hearing, notice of such appeal shall be served upon the attorney for the Commonwealth and the governing body. No such appeal shall be tried by the court within 10 days after notice is given as provided in this section unless such notice is waived. The circuit court shall hear the matter de novo with further right of appeal as provided by law. The court may appoint viewers to make such investigation and findings as the court requires of them. Upon the hearing of the appeal, the court shall ascertain and by its order determine whether public necessity exists for the continuance of the section of road or the railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing or whether the welfare of the public will be served best by abandoning the section of the road or the railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing and shall enter its order accordingly.

Upon any such appeal, if it appears to the court that by the abandonment of such section of road or such railroad crossing as a public road or public railroad crossing any party to such appeal would be deprived of access to a public road, the court may cause the railroad company and the governing body, or either, to be made parties to the proceedings, if not already parties, and may enter such orders as seem just and proper for keeping open such section of road or such railroad crossing for the benefit of such party or parties.

Code 1950, § 33-76.19; 1950, p. 735; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-162; 1978, c. 187; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-921. Effect of abandonment.

In the case of the abandonment of any section of road or any railroad crossing under the provisions of this article, such section of road or such crossing shall cease to be a public road or public railroad crossing. However, any such abandonment shall be subject to the rights of owners of any public utility installations that have been previously erected therein.

Code 1950, § 33-76.20; 1950, p. 736; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-163; 1986, c. 12; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-922. Recordation of abandonment of roads, highways, or railroad crossings by counties.

A certified copy of any ordinance, resolution, or order abandoning a road, highway, or railroad crossing by a county adopted pursuant to Article 2 (§ 33.2-908 et seq.) or this article shall be recorded and indexed in the deed book in the name of the county as grantor or where record title to the underlying fee is not known shall be recorded in the office of the clerk of court in the county where such road, highway, or railroad crossing is located in the name of the county adopting such ordinance or resolution or entering such order.

1986, c. 631, § 33.1-163.1; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-923. Alternative procedure for abandonment of old road or crossing to extent of alteration.

When any road or any road containing a highway-rail grade crossing has been or is altered and a new road that serves the same users as the old road is constructed as a replacement and approved by the governing body, the old road or public crossing may be abandoned to the extent of such alteration, but no further, by an ordinance or resolution of the governing body declaring the old road or public crossing abandoned.

Code 1950, § 33-76.21; 1950, p. 736; 1952, c. 123; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-164; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-924. Conveying sections of roads or other property no longer necessary.

When any road abandoned as provided in this article is deemed by the governing body no longer necessary for the public use, the governing body shall so certify in its minutes and may authorize the sale and conveyance in the name of the county of a deed or deeds conveying such sections, either for consideration or in exchange for other lands that may be necessary for the uses of the county. However, before any such deed either for the sale or exchange of land is executed conveying any section of a road along which any person resides, the governing body shall give notice to the owner of the land upon which such person resides of the intention to convey the section of road, and if after a reasonable notice of such intention any such landowner so requests, the governing body shall order a hearing. If upon such hearing it is determined that such section of road should be kept open for the reasonable convenience of such landowner or the public, then such section of road shall not be conveyed. The action of the governing body under this section shall not be subject to § 15.2-1800.

Code 1950, § 33-76.22; 1950, p. 736; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-165; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-925. Alternative method of abandoning roads.

As an alternative to the procedure for abandonment prescribed by this article, a road may be abandoned in accordance with the procedure for vacations in subdivision 2 of § 15.2-2272. All abandonments of roads sought to be effected according to subsection (b) of former § 15.1-482 before July 1, 1990, are hereby validated notwithstanding any defects or deficiencies in the proceeding, provided that property rights that have vested subsequent to the attempted abandonment are not impaired by such validation. The manner of reversion shall not be affected by this section.

1990, c. 198, § 33.1-166.1; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-926. Chapter 20 of Title 15.2 not affected.

No provision of Articles 1 (§ 33.2-900 et seq.), 2 (§ 33.2-908 et seq.), or this article shall affect the provisions of Chapter 20 (§ 15.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 15.2.

Code 1950, § 33-76.24; 1950, p. 737; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-167; 2014, c. 805.

Article 4. Abandonment of Highways for Flooding Secondary Highways in Connection with Municipal Water Supply Projects.

§ 33.2-927. Abandonment of highway in area to be flooded in connection with municipal water supply projects.

When a city or town that owns and operates a waterworks system that supplies the city or town and its inhabitants with water finds it necessary to increase its water supply such that it requires impounding the water of a stream outside the corporate limits of such city or town by means of a dam erected in such stream and the impounding of the water thereof would result in the overflow, or flooding, of a section or sections of a highway or highways within the secondary state highway system that necessitates the alteration and relocation of the highway or highways and the governing body of the city or town by ordinance declares (i) such necessity and (ii) that it is the intention of such city or town to comply with the requirements of this article, then the highway proposed to be flooded may be discontinued and abandoned but only after the city or town has complied with the provisions and requirements of this article.

Code 1950, § 33-82; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-168; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-928. Procedure to secure abandonment of highways to be flooded in connection with municipal water supply projects.

A city or town subject to the provisions of this article shall certify to the governing body of the county within which the highway, or the greater part thereof, lies a copy of the ordinance adopted by the city or town as provided in this article. The governing body of the county, upon receipt, shall within 30 days (i) consider the reasonableness of the action contemplated by the city or town ordinance, (ii) propose and publish an ordinance approving or disapproving the action contemplated by the city or town, and (iii) conduct a hearing thereon. In the event that after such hearing the governing body of the county disapproves the proposed flooding, discontinuance, and abandonment of the highway, the city or town shall have the right to an appeal to the circuit court of the county where the question of the reasonableness of the proposed flooding and abandonment shall be heard de novo by the circuit court and judgment shall be rendered according to its decision. The judgment of the circuit court may be appealed to the Court of Appeals.

Code 1950, § 33-83; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-169; 2014, c. 805; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 489.

§ 33.2-929. Plans for relocation of highways in connection with municipal water supply projects.

If there is a final approval of the abandonment of the highway by the governing body of the county or by the court, the city or town shall, solely at its own expense, submit to the Commissioner of Highways plans and specifications for a proposed relocation of the highway, containing such information and facts as a location, elevations, and other matters the Commissioner of Highways may require. The Commissioner of Highways shall have the power to change, alter, and amend the plans in order to conform to the views of the Commissioner of Highways as to the location, width, and type of construction of such highway to be built on the new location, provided that the new highway is located such that it will not be flooded by the water to be impounded, and provided further that the Commissioner of Highways may not require a more expensive type or character of highway than the one to be abandoned. The Commissioner of Highways shall approve such plans and specifications either as proposed by the city or town or as amended by the Commissioner of Highways.

Code 1950, § 33-84; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-170; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-930. Acquisition of lands for relocation.

Upon the approval of plans and specifications by the Commissioner of Highways, the city or town shall, solely at its own expense and in the name of the Commonwealth, acquire either by purchase or condemnation the right-of-way necessary to construct the highway on the new location as shown by the plans approved by the Commissioner of Highways. In the event of condemnation, the proceedings shall be instituted in the name of the city or town and shall conform to the proceedings that would be applicable if they had been instituted by the Commissioner of Highways. However, when the award has been paid, the title to the lands acquired in the proceedings shall vest in the Commonwealth in the same manner as if the Commissioner of Highways had instituted and conducted the proceedings and had paid the award.

Code 1950, § 33-85; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-171; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-931. Costs of relocation.

The city or town shall pay out of its own funds all costs incident to all surveys, plans, specifications, blueprints, or other matters relating to the relocation of the highway and the entire cost of acquiring, by purchase or by condemnation, the right-of-way.

Code 1950, § 33-86; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-172; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-932. Construction of relocated highway.

Upon the acquisition of a right-of-way as provided in this article, the city or town shall grade such right-of-way and construct the highway required, in accordance with the plans and specifications approved by the Commissioner of Highways.

Code 1950, § 33-87; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-173; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-933. Approval or disapproval of construction.

When a highway is completed, the city or town shall notify the Commissioner of Highways, who shall promptly cause an inspection to be made by the Department. If the Department approves the highway construction, the Commissioner of Highways shall notify the city or town in writing of such fact. If the Department disapproves the highway construction, it shall notify the city or town, specifying the Department's objections and recommendations for remedying or removing them, and the city or town shall promptly carry out such recommendations.

Code 1950, § 33-88; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-174; 2014, c. 805.

§ 33.2-934. New highway part of secondary state highway system; former highway to vest in city or town.

When the city or town has been notified by the Commissioner of Highways of final approval of the construction of the highway, such highway shall immediately become a part of the secondary state highway system, and the public shall be vested with the same rights of travel on such highway as it possesses with respect to the other highways in the system. The part of the highway that it is proposed to flood shall be deemed to be abandoned, and all public rights therein shall vest in the city or town.

Code 1950, § 33-89; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-175; 2014, c. 805.