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Home > Passenger Vehicles > Road Network > Roads > The Right-of-Way

The right-of-way is the land occupied by the road and related structures and dedicated to public use. It includes, among other things,

  • travel lanes and shoulders
  • ditches
  • additional strips of land of varying size enabling the road manager to carry out maintenance operations

Far from being minor details, shoulders and ditches are extremely important, both for road safety and for maintaining good road conditions. Shoulders provide a clearance area facilitating emergency maneuvers. Ditches ensure drainage of surface runoff and the stability of the road foundation.

Private Entrances

MTQ distinguishes between four types of private entrance: the residential entrance, the entrance of an agricultural, forestry, or livestock-raising enterprise, the commercial entrance, and, lastly, the industrial entrance. Each type of entrance must have a specified width. Certain characteristics, such as the slope and configuration of the entrance, depend on the geometry of the road and the land, and on whether the setting is urban or rural.

Building, Alteration, or Change in the Use of Private Entrance

Part of any private entrance is located within the rightof- way of the public road.This means that any owner of roadfront property wishing to build a new entrance, alter an existing entrance (widen or pave it, or add a pipe), or change the use of the entrance (from residential to commercial, for instance) must obtain the prior authorization of MTQ, in accordance with the Act respecting roads. If work that has not been authorized is carried out within the public right-of-way, MTQ can send the owner a written notice requiring him or her to return the site to its original state and specifying a deadline and conditions.

Maintenance of Private Entrances and Ditches

A poorly kept entrance can damage the roadway and increase the risk of vehicle collisions. Therefore, in the interest of everyone, the owner of a roadside property must maintain the entrance in good condition and ensure that the drainage pipe is free of any obstruction that could interfere with the flow of surface runoff.

The same holds true for roadside ditches, which play a critical role in preserving the road. Ditches help eliminate surface runoff from the roadway and thereby prevent the road foundation from giving way. For this reason, property owners must see that the ditch in front of their property is always in good condition and free of all obstructions. An owner cannot fill the ditch with dirt or dump fallen leaves or cut grass into it, for instance. By the same token, snow cannot be shovelled or blown into the ditch in the wintertime, no more than onto the roadway or elsewhere within the public right-of-way.


In rural areas, mailboxes that are too close to the road are in danger of being damaged by maintenance vehicles. And it is not very safe for letter carriers to deliver the mail if they cannot pull their vehicles completely off the traveled part of the roadway.The same goes for residents picking up their mail. That is why, in areas with mail delivery, roadfront property owners who want to install a mailbox in front of their land must first of all inquire at the MTQ service center closest to their property about the standards and guidelines that apply.A few of the principles governing the installation of a mailbox are given below:

  • the mailbox must be completely clear of the shoulder in order not to obstruct road maintenance.
  • the mailbox must not have any reflectors on it that could create confusion with the road signs and traffic lights in place.
  • the mailbox must be secured in such a manner that it does not come off its support if hit by a road vehicle.
  • the mailbox's support must be made of wood or light metal and be designed in such a manner that it falls over on impact.

Fences, Walls and Lighting

To show where their property begins or for esthetic reasons, some owners erect fences, build walls, or install lights along the edge of their property. None of these must become a source of danger to people on the roadway or constitute a hazard that a vehicle leaving the roadway could crash into. And such installations must never be placed within the public right-of-way.


Seasonal Shelters for Students

As soon as the schoolyear starts, shelters appear along the roadway to protect students waiting for the school bus. These shelters offer welcome protection against cold and bad weather, especially during the wintertime. To ensure the safety of children, shelters must be set up in the private entrance of the property and outside the right-of-way to reduce the risk of their being hit by road vehicles, notably during snow removal operations. It is also important that shelters be placed on the driver's right-hand side so that they are clearly visible when a vehicle leaves the private entrance heading out onto the road.

Temporary Car Shelters

In the wintertime, some owners of roadfront property set up temporary shelters for their vehicles near the road. Though the shelters are practical, they can present an obstacle during snow removal operations if they obstruct the right-of-way. For reasons of safety and to avoid damage, shelters must be erected well back from the right-of-way.

Roadside Advertising

Do you have products for sale or a room for rent? Do not install objects for sale or post advertising within the right-of-way, as this is prohibited under the Highway Safety Code and the Act respecting roads without the consent of the person responsible for the maintenance of the public highway. Furthermore, the Highway Safety Code prohibits devices, advertising or signs that obstruct or imitate a road signal or that may be confused with such a road signal.

Note also that the Roadside Advertising Act, the Act to prohibit commercial advertising along certain thoroughfares, and municipal regulations in your municipality may govern advertising on your property. It is important to seek information from the Ministère and your municipality before installing posters on the roadside. In some cases, a permit may even be required.


For more information or to obtain the required authorization, contact the office of the ministère des Transports in your region.

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