May a county perform maintenance work on private property?
Generally, a county may not repair or maintain a private road or property, subject to a few exceptions:
Counties with a population under 7,500
Tex. Const. Article III, section 52f authorizes counties with a population of 7,500 or less to construct or repair private roads if the county charges a reasonable amount for the work. Revenue received from private road work may be used only for the construction, including right-of-way acquisition, or maintenance of public roads.
Chapter 253 of the Transportation Code authorizes a procedure for improving private subdivision roads “to comply with county standards for roads” where the condition of the roads impacts the public’s health, safety or welfare. The commissioners court must make this determination. The public must be notified and a hearing must take place. Ballots must be mailed to property owners in the subdivision, and if the majority vote in favor of the improvement and assessment, the commissioners court shall order the improvements and assess the costs of the improvements against the property owners. A private subdivision road improved under Chapter 253 becomes a county road. For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, see our Common Road and Bridge Questions publication.
Driveways and Culverts
There is limited authority to clear drainage ditches and culverts on private property in counties with a population of less than 100,000 that have established a drainage system under §254.008 of the Transportation Code. The private ditch or culvert must connect with a drainage ditch constructed or maintained by the county. Before removing blockage in a private ditch, the commissioners court must provide 20 days’ notice by certified mail to the record owners of the property that they are in violation of an order adopted under Chapter 254 of the Transportation Code. The commissioners court must pay the costs incurred in clearing or removing a blockage.