Liability Implications for Low Volume Rural Highways

by Melvin B. Larsen, (F.ASCE), Engr. of Local Roads and Streets; Div. of Highways, Ill. Dept. of Transportation, Springfield, Ill.,

Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1980, Vol. 106, Issue 6, Pg. 803-814

Document Type: Journal Paper


Sovereign immunity of local governments has been diminishing. Tort liability plagues local governments and imposes heavy financial burdens. Actions may be taken by the highway engineer to limit the potential of and prepare defense for liability lawsuits. Low volume roads are unique. Criteria designed for low volume rural highways should be used in establishing programs and defenses for liability. The use of design standards may place governments in a less defensible position. Design criteria or design guides permit more flexibility and the use of professional judgment which is more defensible. Actions such as setting priorities, establishing and documenting design guides, using good signing, creating and following a road condition inspection system, a public awareness program, and keeping a record of actions and happenings provides the engineer with a basis for protection.

Subject Headings: Highway and road design | Liability | Rural areas | Highways and roads | Local government | Financial management | Litigation | Standards and codes

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