A Maryland county will spend $9 million on sidewalk improvements.

County in Maryland approves bill to improve sidewalk safety

Due to the wear and tear that results from high use, many of today's infrastructure deteriorates over time, to the point of requiring significant work in order to enhance it so that the public's safety is ensured. In Maryland, lawmakers there recently agreed that many of the sidewalks in Frederick County need to be worked on and have approved a spending package that aims to do just that.

Reported by the Frederick News-Post, officials in western Maryland have approved a $9 million bill, aimed at fixing some of the sidewalks and ramps that don't meet the standards of the American with Disabilities Act, which is a federal law.

Directive issued in early-2014

The Maryland Highway Administration issued an order earlier this year, requiring Frederick County officials to take care of this issue promptly after an evaluation of the infrastructure revealed that 13 percent of sidewalk surfaces in the county don't comply with the ADA and as much as 97 percent of curb ramps.

"Some of this stuff is 20 years ago," county commissioner Blaine Young told the local newspaper.

David Olney, project manager in the county's office of transportation engineering, added that the $9.1 million being made available is solely for construction expenses. It does not account for what the cost of the design might be, inspection services or project management.

The sidewalk safety issues may not have been made aware to the state without the concerns expressed by residents. John Gretz of Urbana brought the issue up with state officials, who investigated the issue and ultimately determined that something had to be done.

"When a citizen brings forth legitimate concerns, they should be addressed and they shouldn't just be blown off," Gretz told the Frederick News-Post.

Though laws tend to vary from state to state, if a person lives somewhere that's near to a public sidewalk, they may be required to ensure that it's clear for people to use it, such as if it snows there or there's an ice storm. Should someone slip and fall, they may be found liable if the person injured sues for medical costs. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a home insurance policy typically pays for these types of damages, including court costs such as lawyers fees. As a general rule, the standard amount of liability protection is $100,000.