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Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs (2020)

Chapter: NCHRP LRD 82: Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs

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Suggested Citation:"NCHRP LRD 82: Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25836.
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Background State highway departments and transportation agen- cies have a continuing need to keep abreast of operat- ing practices and legal elements of specific problems in highway law. The NCHRP Legal Research Digest and the Selected Studies in Transportation Law (SSTL) series are intended to keep departments up-to-date on laws that will affect their operations. Foreword Slope failures pose serious risks for state transporta- tion agencies and federal agencies that own or maintain roads, highways, and/or adjacent property. These enti- ties may be subject to liability for unstable slope related incidents involving administrative and judicial claims for personal and property damage. Many transportation agencies have adopted unstable slope management pro- grams and standards as part of a larger effort to provide an efficient and effective methodology to prevent or con- trol landslides or rockfalls. These programs typically use a ranking or rating scale to help determine which slopes should receive preventive or corrective maintenance. This digest provides a detailed description of several specific unstable slope management programs, includ- ing the type of data collected and rating systems that are utilized. The digest presents an analysis of govern- mental immunity and discretionary waivers of immuni- ty and the application of such to transportation activities and employees, especially in the context of highway slope failures. Pertinent cases are analyzed, with special attention given to expert testimony elicited to support or defend a claim. This digest would be useful to federal and state trans- portation agency personnel particularly in the areas of street and highway construction, planning, main- tenance, asset management, and attorneys practicing transportation law. Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs This digest was prepared under NCHRP Project 20-06, “Legal Problems Arising Out of Highway Programs,” for which the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is the agency coordinating the research. Under Topic 24-02, Timothy R. Wyatt, Conner Gwyn Schenck PLLC, Greensboro, NC, prepared this digest. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this digest are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The responsible program officer is Gwen Chisholm Smith. JUNE 2020 NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM NCHRPLRD 82 LEGAL RESEARCH DIGEST

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Slope failures pose serious risks for state transportation agencies and federal agencies that own or maintain roads, highways, and/or adjacent property. Many transportation agencies have adopted unstable slope management programs and standards as part of a larger effort to provide an efficient and effective methodology to prevent or control landslides or rockfalls.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP LRD 82: Potential Liability Associated with Unstable Slope Management Programs provides a detailed description of several specific unstable slope management programs, including the type of data collected and rating systems that are utilized.

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