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Last updated: 8/22/18

Public vs. private ways

Learn about who's responsible for public and private ways in the City of Boston.

How do you know if you live on a public or private way? Check out our street book!

Still have questions? Contact:
Public Works
1 City Hall Square
Room 714
Boston, MA 02201-2024
United States

Street infrastructure

Public

The City of Boston is responsible for all general maintenance of public ways.

Private

Residents are responsible for all maintenance of the streets and sidewalks along the private way.

Street cleanliness

Public

The City of Boston is responsible for street cleanliness in the public way.

Private

The abutting property owners are responsible for street cleanliness in the private way.

Snow removal

Public

The City of Boston is responsible for plowing and sanding the public ways. Residents are responsible for clearing sidewalks along their property line.

Private

Property owners are responsible for clearing both roadways and sidewalks. The City may plow roadways for emergency reasons at their discretion.

Trash pickup

Public

The City will provide trash / recycling removal service to residential properties via curbside pickup on specific days.

Private

The City will provide trash / recycling removal service to residential properties if City vehicles can safely enter and exit the private way.

Parking

Public

The City sets and enforces all parking regulations and requirements.

Private

Property owners are responsible for setting and enforcing any parking regulations within the private way.

Streetlights

Public

The City of Boston manages and maintains all City-owned streetlights.

Private

The City manages and maintains all accessible City-owned streetlights.

Utilities

Public

Utility companies must file a permit with the City before beginning work on existing lines.

Private

It is recommended that utility companies inform residents of work 7 - 10 days before starting. Residents may request the work be postponed.