Orphan Roads

North Carolina Department of Transportation maintains all public roads in unincorporated Wake County. When a developer fails to turn newly constructed roads over to NCDOT, they become “orphan roads,” because there is no legal entity responsible for the road. You can check the jurisdiction of your road by looking at NCDOT’s secondary road database or this interactive map. Please note, the map is updated quarterly.

NCDOT will not accept roads into their system if the roads are not up to standard. Orphan roads are concerning because:

  • No one will fix the road if it needs to be repaired, which can lead to public safety problems.
  • Degraded and unmaintained roads can negatively affect property values.
  • The cost to fix roads to NCDOT standards can escalate over the years.
  • Orphan roads may affect the sale of a home.

Please contact us at 919-856-6320 or terry.nolan@wake.gov with questions. 

Options for property owners dealing with orphan roads

Private Road - Turn the road into a private road and manage the maintenance through the HOA

Steps to create a private road

  1. Develop a maintenance agreement among 100% of the property owners.
  2. Make any improvements that meet Wake County’s private road standards.
  3. Resurvey and re-record the roads as private.
  4. Establish a community road maintenance fund.


Benefits of the private road option

  • Private roads have different design standards from NCDOT and there may be lower upfront costs.
  • Property owners may prefer local control over their road.


Drawbacks of the private road option

  • All 100% of property owners must agree to make the road private.
  • Property owners would be responsible for all future maintenance.

Fix It Yourself – HOA or team of property owners manage the project to get the road up to NCDOT standard

Steps to Fix It Yourself

  1. Hire a contractor.
  2. Work with NCDOT to get the road fixed.
  3. Develop a legal arrangement to share costs of the project among property owners.


Benefits of Fix It Yourself option

  • It gets the road into the NCDOT maintained system.
  • It is less costly than the Wake County program.


Drawbacks of the Fix It Yourself option

  • Property owners need to front the funds necessary to fix the roads.

Wake County Program – The County provides upfront financing and manages the project, gets roads turned over to NCDOT

Steps for Wake County Program

  1. Property owners get a cost estimate.
  2. Community leaders circulate a petition, submit petition to Wake County once 75% of property owners AND 75% of lineal footage sign.
  3. Petition is presented to the Board of Commissioners for public hearing and consideration.
  4. If approved, Wake County manages the construction project and works with NCDOT to get roads into the state-maintained system.
  5. Once complete, the county assesses all affected property owners for the total cost of the project. Property assessment runs with the land but can be paid up front or through a repayment plan according to the terms in the agreement.


Benefits of the County Program

  • County has processes and standards to ensure the work is done properly.
  • Do not need 100% of property owners to agree.


Drawbacks of the County Program

  • More costly than the Fix It Yourself.

Recent and Ongoing Projects

Wake County has several projects in the county funded program that are in the design, construction, or payback phase at any one time. Ongoing projects will not show up in a title search or any regular due diligence process related to the purchase of a home. Learn more about county funded projects below. Real estate agents are encouraged to contact us at 919-856-6320 with questions about the status of a project.

Ongoing Projects

The Preserve at Long Branch Farms Subdivision is underway. See map below of impacted properties. There will be a property assessment on the highlighted properties once the project is complete in 2024.

Completed Projects With Property Assessments

Road improvements on the following projects have been completed and the NCDOT has accepted the roads into the state-maintained system. The projects are in payback and there may be property assessments on the properties. See maps below showing completed projects.