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Ancient Roads

The legislation for "Ancient Roads" sunset on July 1, 2015. We have been asked to keep this web page available because people continue to find its information useful. (January 2017)

-- Ancient Roads Guidance Document --

The VTrans Mapping Unit has crafted a guidance document "Adding Ancient Roads to the General Highway Maps - Understanding How Act 178 of 2006 and Parts of V.S.A Title 19 Work An Ancient Road Practicum."

This document provides an overview of Act 178 and ancient roads, and the mechanics of adding class 4 town highways and legal trails to the Mileage Certificates and ultimately to the General Highway Maps. It seeks to provide insight to the process, necessary steps and documents, and the timeline.

This document does not seek to cover the full topic of ancient roads or all the nuances in Act 178 of 2006 or the changes that occurred to V.S.A. Title 19, but we have tried to demystify a portion of Act 178 and the process to make additions to the General Highway Maps for towns, cities and villages.

A copy of this document has been sent to all the Selectboard, Trustee, and Alderman Chairs.

-- Legislative Reports --

The following are annual reports submitted by VTrans in accordance with Sec. 12(a) of Act No. 178 of 2006
- a 2009 report was not issued -

-- Miscellaneous Reports --

Observations about Adding Ancient Roads to the VTrans Road Centerline Data Layer - June 2010

Poster "Adding an Ancient Road" - July 2010

-- Ancient Road Documentation that Should be Included with the Certificate of Highway Highway Mileage, as noted in 19 V.S.A. § 305(e) --

"A request by a municipality to the agency for a change in mileage shall include ..."

"… a description of the affected highway or trail"
Translate the description into modern references where the road is located, allowing the highway to be easily defined on a town highway map.

"… a copy of any surveys of the affected highway or trail"
A copy of the original documents recording the laying out of the road (if the original is difficult to read, please include a transcription). It should be noted that a new survey shall not be required for class 4 town highways that are legally established prior to February 10, 2006.

"… minutes of meetings at which the legislative body took action with respect to the changes"
Submit copies of any documents that shows the legislative body took action on the highway or trail. It would be beneficial to also receive documents that evidence the addition was addressed and approved by the current legislative body. The municipality should provide documentation that the highway or trail was legally established.

"… a current town highway map with the requested deletions and additions sketched on it."
Sketch clearly the changes on a copy of the current town highway map so the Mapping Unit can easily locate and understand the necessary changes.
Town Highway Maps can be found on-line at
or copies may be requested from the Mapping Unit.

Please note somewhere in the documentation whether the road to be added is "Clearly Observable and Used" or "Unobservable and Unused"

-- Mass Discontinuance --

Certificate of Mass Discontinuance of Town Highways
Municipalities currently have the ability for mass discontinuance of any highways that will become "unidentified corridors" on July 1, 2010. The mass discontinuance of highways only covers those highways that meet the criteria defined in 19 V.S.A. § 302(6). The provision for mass discontinuance is available until July 1, 2010 and is defined in statute as 19 V.S.A. §§ 305(h) - 305(n).

The Mapping Unit has created a Certificate of Mass Discontinuance to provide municipalities with a checklist related to the process.

-- Statutes and State Resources --

Act 178 of 2006 - An Act Relating to Unidentified Corridors
On July 1, 2006, Act 178 went into effect, which added additional requirements to towns for the accounting of mileage and mapping of Class 4 Town Highways and Legal Trails, along with other substantial modifications to Chapters 3 and 7 of Title 19 – Highways of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

Ancient Roads Research and Mapping Municipal Grant Program
This grant program was established by Act 178 (see above) and is administered by the Vermont Department of Housing & Community Affairs.

Vermont State Archives -- Maps / Plans Database
Lotting maps and plans, circa 1760's-1810.