A private road is a road owned and maintained by a private individual, organization, or company rather than by a government.
Consequently, unauthorized use of the road may be considered trespassing, and some of the usual rules of the road may not apply. The most common type of private road is a residential road maintained by a homeowners association, housing co-op, or other group of individual homeowners. There are also networks of private highways in Italy and other nations. Such highways typically are toll roads whose upkeep is paid for with user fees, for example, the Dulles Greenway in Virginia, United States.
England and Wales are thought to have about 40,000 private roads. They are not normally the responsibility of the local authority, but the authority may provide services such as street lighting (e.g. Avenue Rise, Bushey, Hertfordshire). They normally have to be maintained by residents. They are referred to as unadopted roads because they have not gone through the statutory process of adoption, for example under Highways Act 1980 s37 or s38. Even if not expressly or implicitly dedicated for public use, public use over time may nonetheless have created public rights of way; though by Part 6 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, in force from 2 May 2006, many public rights of way for motor vehicles in private roads have now been extinguished.
Private road associations manage two-thirds of the total road network in Sweden. However, only four per cent of the total road transportation work is carried on these, mostly rural, roads. In fact, only one per cent of the road transports are made on the half of the roads that do not receive government subsidies for their maintenance, with the bulk not receiving subsidies being built and maintained by the forestry industry as needed and most often closed to the public. New private roads that receive government support are often built by the government and transferred to the roads principal stakeholders, those living along it. These form a private road association to maintain it and get subsidies from the government to keep it open to the rest of the public. Even factoring in the unpaid work of the members of the association, the cost of operation and maintenance is often considerably less than a comparable public road.
In Canada private roads are main access routes or private driveways onto private property. These roads are maintained by private owners of the land they occupy. Most private roads do not have any name signage other than a sign indicating the ownership status.
- David T. Beito, From Privies to Boulevards: The Private Supply of Infrastructure in the United States during the Nineteenth Century in Jerry Jenkins and David Sisk, eds., Development by Consent: The Voluntary Supply of Public Goods and Services, San Francisco: ICS Press, 1993, 23–48; and The Formation of Urban Infrastructure through Non-Governmental Planning: The Private Places of St. Louis, 1869–1920, Journal of Urban History 16 (May 1990), 263–301.
- SOU:2001:67 2001