A public roadway will not be deemed "abandoned" simply because a public body stops maintaining it for decades, even if the road falls into disrepair. Chamness v. Union County, 2014 IL 5th 130381 (Aug. 4, 2014).
In this case, the county and two property owners adjacent to a roadway disputed whether the roadway was a public roadway or had been abandoned by the county. The plaintiff, one of the adjacent property owners argued that the county had abandoned the road when it stopped maintaining it 50 years ago and that title should be vested with plaintiff. The county and the other adjacent property owner disagreed, arguing that the road remained a public roadway even though the county had stopped maintaining the roadway almost 50 years ago.
The trial court agreed with the county and defendant owner, holding that abandonment of a public roadway will only be found when the public has waived the right to the road or where the necessity for the road ceases to exist. On appeal, the appellate court agreed with the trial court, finding that an established public road "does not lose its character as a public road unless it is either vacated by the authorities in the manner prescribed by statute or abandoned." In this case, the defendant owner's property was landlocked, and there was no other road that would provide access. There was also no evidence that the county had formally vacated the road. The fact that the county had not maintained the road in decades and the road had fallen into disrepair did not change the fact that the road was necessary for access.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink