The NCDOT is moving forward with plans to update the I-40/I-440 interchange.

The $179 million project includes a $21 million land acquisition budget. But would that money adequately compensate area landowners who lose their property when the state begins eminent domain proceedings?

Areas and Scope of the I-40/440 Update

Cary Crossroads is one of the busiest highway interchanges in Wake County, and this project would completely remake this area. Engineers plan to replace the existing interchanges with flyover bridges. The redevelopment would also redirect traffic from Highway 1 and some feeder routes.

This project overlaps with another Interstate 40 improvement project which will widen lanes around Wade Avenue. But NCDOT insists there will be little if any additional disruption.

Project Details

The I-40/I-440 exchange is not just important for local traffic. It’s also a major travel area for out-of-state traffic to and from Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic states. 

Much of the land for the lane-widening portion of the project is undeveloped. But the proposed flyovers might significantly affect current retail and other developments.

Update: With final plans having been completed in Spring of 2019, right-of-way acquisition began soon after and are continuing into 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, budget cuts to NCDOT are causing delays to the timeline. In order to balance funds, the scheduled work on US 15/US 501 on I-40 will be delayed. This may set back much of the work to the overall project.

Project Effects

Like many highway projects in Wake County, the I-40/I-440 project has both direct and indirect effects.

To support huge flyover bridges, NCDOT must seize large sections of property underneath the proposed bridges. As outlined below, the fair market value of this property is not necessarily the value NCDOT assigns.

As for the lane-widening portion of this project, many landowners near the freeway probably had big plans for their property. These plans did not include deeding the land to the state. So, NCDOT must not simply pay the property’s current fair market value. Constitutionally, this agency must pay the fair market value of the land’s highest and best use.

Your Legal Options

Typically, NCDOT accountants estimate a property’s fair market value and offer that sum to the landowner. Development potential and market conditions, which could significantly affect the property’s value, mean little or nothing.

Generally, everything is negotiable, and that includes compensation in an eminent domain case. Property owners might have no control over the final result (the state takes the land), but owners have considerable control over the process (how much the state pays).

Getting the Correct Appraisal for Your Property

Usually, our Raleigh eminent domain attorneys partner with not only accountants but also real estate appraisers and market experts who accurately evaluate a property’s financial value. Furthermore, we do not work with bean counters. Instead, we only work with professionals who can plainly explain their conclusions without talking down to the factfinder.

Initially, that factfinder is usually an administrative judge, at least in NCDOT takings. If the arbitrator’s ruling is unfavorable, landowners can either settle the case or appeal the ruling in civil court. Typically, our Raleigh eminent domain lawyers do both. We file appeals to put pressure on NCDOT so we can settle the case on more favorable financial terms.

Contact a Raleigh Eminent Domain Lawyer

If the state moves to take your land, you may have no control over the outcome, but you have total control over the process. For a consultation with an experienced Raleigh eminent domain attorney, contact Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas at 919-615-2473. We handle matters in Wake County and nearby jurisdictions.

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Joe is an experienced personal injury and NC land condemnation lawyer in Raleigh. He also handles medical negligence cases in Wendell and Raleigh.

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