Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 340
By: Keffer
Land & Resource Management


Currently, most of the county maintained roads in Eastland County, and
other rural West Texas counties, were never dedicated to the public or
conveyed to the county.  Most have been used by the public and maintained
by the county for many years, in spite of the fact that there is nothing of
record in the minutes of the commissioners court or the deed records to
evidence the public's right of access across the land or the county's right
or duty to maintain the roads. 

There has been confusion as to which roads are truly county roads for the
purpose of determining legal access.  Title companies, surveyors,
attorneys, realtors, and lenders have all confronted this issue over the
past few years, as well as the counties themselves.  

The legislature passed a statute that delineated the procedures by which a
county having a population of 50,000 or less could acquire a public
interest in a private road.  It may be an economic burden for most rural
counties to undertake the task of determining the identity of and
contacting each owner along every country lane.  House Bill 340 authorizes
the commissioners court to adopt a proposed county road map, including in
such map all roads in which the county claims a public interest pursuant to
current statutes. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


House Bill 340 amends the Transportation Code to authorize the
commissioners court of a county to propose county road map that includes
each road that the county claims a public interest in as a result of
purchase, condemnation, dedication, a court's final judgment of adverse
possession, or having continuously maintained the road with public funds
since September 1, 1956. The bill requires a commissioners court that
proposes a county road map to hold a public meeting at which a person
asserting a private right, title, or interest in a road can appear before
the commissioners court to protest the county's claim in the road, and sets
forth provisions for notifying the public of the meeting, display of the
proposed map at the meeting, and the subsequent formal adoption of the map
by the commissioners court. The county clerk is required to  keep a county
road map as adopted in a place accessible to the public.  The failure to
include on a county road map any road in which the county has previously
acquired a public interest in does not affect the status of the omitted

A county road map adopted is conclusive evidence of the public's right of
access to a road included on the map, and the county's authority to spend
public money to maintain the road.  The bill authorizes a person asserting
a private right, title, or interest in a road to contest the inclusion of a
road in the county road  map by filing suit in a district court in the
county in which the road is located,  and sets forth provisions for the
filing of a suit and the proof a person must provide to prevail.  


September 1, 2001.