Michelle Rudd: Right Of Way And Property Rights In A Driverless World


Attorney Michelle Rudd authored an article for Law360 titled “Right Of Way And Property Rights In A Driverless World,” published June 8, 2018. (Subscription required.) In the article, Rudd discusses how the laws regarding changing the use of land designated as a right of way vary and how the land may be repurposed to address the deployment of autonomous vehicles in urban areas.

Different visions of the future of cities exist with the wider use of autonomous cars—some see the possibility of gridlock in cities as drivers send their empty cars home to avoid parking costs near where they work, while others envision the vehicles being included in planning for whole transportation systems, ultimately reducing congestion.

It is certain that as municipalities respond to issues brought about by the increasing use of the vehicles, some will find that they either own more right of way than they need or they want to allocate it differently. Rudd addresses the legal issues that will arise in repurposing right of way using several examples of cases in Oregon, Washington and California.

Rudd concludes: “In some instances, the jurisdiction will have full flexibility to repurpose the right of way. It will be imperative, however, for jurisdictions to understand the nature of their specific interest in specific rights of way. Armed with this knowledge jurisdictions can determine how to best plan for any excess right of way land.”

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