2021 Senate Bill 283 is being proposed to create Section 710.20 of the Wisconsin Statute relating to the maintenance and repair of private roads with access easements. Essentially the bill, if passed into law, would require all persons that have a right to use a private road or driveway to contribute to the maintenance and repair costs. If the parties have a written agreement as to how the costs should be shared, that written document would control. In the absence of a written document, or the written document does not address the costs, the costs would be shared based on the amount and intensity of each person’s actual use. There are a number of proposed exceptions, but generally they are the following:
- The maintenance and repair is to damage “caused” by a person; or
- The real estate is owned by the state or other specific entities e.g., railroad or public utilities.
What the bill does not deal with, and what I would see as likely leading to future litigation would be determining “the amount and intensity of each beneficial user’s actual use…” Overall, the bill makes sense from a practical standpoint because it would seem that those that use the road should also be the ones paying for a road absent a written agreement to the contrary.