What are the rules for Seasonal Limited Use Highways
Seasonal Limited Use Highways are covered by Section 205-a of the Town Highway Law. On or before November 1st of each year, the Town Superintendent of Highways may designate a Town highway as Seasonal Limited Use if the highway has NO occupied residences or commercial buildings that require access from the Town highway during the winter. This designation must be renewed each year and the Town Board and Town Clerk must be notified.
There is an opinion from the NYS Comptroller that states that “the statute applies both in cases of residences occupied year-round and residences occupied only part of the year” so you cannot use the seasonal limited use highway designation when there is a summer camp. Whether the courts would agree is a matter of facts and case law.
The highway so designated must be signed properly at each end with the NYR8-10 Seasonal Limited Use Highway Sign. This means signs at any open end may require extra signs warning folks before they turn onto a section of highway.
If so designated, the Town may discontinue snow plowing and other highway maintenance from December 1 until April 1. Please note that the signs should be placed early enough so folks are aware of the possible change. For a new highway this would mean the signs should be placed by mid-November at the latest.
An alternative to the Seasonal Limited Use Highway is a minimum maintenance highway, but said designation requires the board to enact a local law designating the use of minimum maintenance highways. The Cornell Local Roads Program has a Tech Tip that outlines the guidelines for this designation and has a local set of standards on the web that can be adopted (see resources).
Town Highway Law - § 205-a. Seasonal limited use highway
- The town highway
superintendent is authorized to annually designate, on or before the first day of November in each year, a town highway as a seasonal limited use highway.
- Seasonal limited use highways shall be those town highways without occupied residences or commercial buildings dependent upon such highways
- Seasonal limited use highways shall be appropriately posted.
- The town is authorized to temporarily discontinue snow and ice removal and maintenance from the first day of December until the first day of April on any highway so designated.
Cornell Local Roads Program
Traffic Sign Handbook for Local Roads, 2011 New York State Edition, September 2011 (pdf)
Highway Standards for Low-Volume Roads in New York State, 2009
Association of Towns of the State of New York: (518) 465-7933