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AGO 1958 No. 169 - March 07, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


COUNTIES ‑- SIDEWALKS AND CURBS ‑- AUTHORITY OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO GRANT PERMISSION TO ABUTTING OWNERS TO CONSTRUCT ON COUNTY ROAD RIGHT OF WAYS.

ROADS ‑- SIDEWALKS AND CURBS ‑- SAME

Counties may not grant permission to owners of land abutting county roads to construct sidewalks and curbs on county road right of ways.

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                                                                   March 7, 1958

Honorable Maloy Sensney
Prosecuting Attorney
Fisk Building
Prosser, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 169

Attention:  Mr. Herbert H. Davis, Deputy

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the advice of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Can a county give permission to the abutting landowners to construct sidewalks and curbs on county road right of ways?

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The county itself has long been able to construct sidewalks pursuant to its general authority as to county roads.  Bullock v. Yakima Valley Transp. Co., 108 Wash. 413, 184 Pac. 641 (1919);Berglund v. Spokane County, 4 Wn. (2d) 309, 103 P. (2d) 355 (1940).  Express authority was granted as to sidewalks by § 25, chapter 187, Laws of 1937, now codified as RCW 36.75.240.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            RCW 36.75.020 provides as follows:

            "All of the county roads in each of the several counties shall be established, laid out, constructed, altered, repaired, improved, and maintainedby the board of county commissioners of the respective counties as agents of the state."  (Italics ours.)

            The court inBullock v. Yakima Valley Transp. Co., supra, held that a sidewalk on a county road is a part of the road authorized by law; as such, it falls within the terms of the above statute, by which the legislature has made all matters relevant to the construction and maintenance of county roads the exclusive function of the boards of county commissioners.  The language of the statute is mandatory as to who shall perform this function and must therefore be followed.  State ex rel. Indianapolis v. Brennan, Ind., 109 N.E. (2d) 409, 411, 412.

            On the basis of this analysis, it is our conclusion that a county cannot grant permission to abutting land owners to construct sidewalks and curbs on county road right of ways.

            We trust the foregoing will be of service to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

GERALD F. COLLIER
Assistant Attorney General

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