Legal Problems Arising out of Highway Programs. Topic 24-02. Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs

Approximately two-thirds of state departments of transportation (DOTs) and several federal land management agencies utilize some form of unstable slope inventory and condition rating system for their transportation networks. Several states and federal agencies already operate or are developing asset management-based unstable slope management programs (USMPs) that provide methodology for determining which slopes should receive maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, or replacement work. Such work is needed for mitigating, reducing, or eliminating risk from failure of rock or soil slopes; reducing costs associated with unstable slopes; and improving performance of the transportation network. Rock falls and landslides pose serious risks to public safety. Legal actions have been brought against transportation agencies to resolve liability for unstable slope-related claims. Some of these cases are resolved in part based upon the principle of discretionary immunity. Each case is resolved as to its particular set of facts and interpretations of the applicable law on a claim-by- claim and state-by-state (or federal) basis. The objective of this research is to produce a report that, at a minimum, addresses the following questions: (1) What law provides guidance to transportation agencies regarding potential liability for unstable slopes and slope management programs? (2) Does the liability of state DOTs for unstable slope-related damage extend to some types of activities and not others? (3) What is the basis for the liability of state DOTs for unstable slope-related damage and what defenses exist, including potential immunity, duty, and causation defenses? (4) Does the presence or absence of state standards (statute, administrative codes, policy,  state DOT manuals or practice guides, etc.) affect the liability of state DOTs for unstable slope-related damage claims? (5) Does the presence or absence of generally or universally accepted guidance affect the liability of state DOTs for unstable slope-related damage issues?

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $60000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-06, Topic 24-02

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Chisholm-Smith, Gwen

  • Start Date: 20180213
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01659874
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-06, Topic 24-02
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Feb 12 2018 3:03PM