What happens when a quiet, four-lane highway becomes an interstate? Landowners along Route 70 from Hidden Hollow to Brier Creek to Stirrup Creek are about to find out. 

Crystal Coast owners are thrilled about the future upgrades. Converting Route 70 will cut travel time between the Research Triangle and the Crystal Coast, which is a popular tourist and visitor destination, almost in half. When complete, the new Interstate 42 will stretch over 100 miles. Construction crews should be busy for most of the next decade on this massive undertaking.

The next phase of this mammoth project focuses on the portion of Route 70 from northwest of Bethesda to northwest of the Route 70/Interstate 540 interchange, near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Construction in this area is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2024.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed some of the progress on this project, right-of-way acquisition is still scheduled to begin in Spring 2021. This means that people whose property is in the way of this project will begin being contacted by the state and land acquisition processes will begin.

US 70 Expansion Details

In a nutshell, NCDOT wants to more than double Route 70’s size, from four lanes with a narrow median to eight lanes with a wide median. Additionally, a few scattered highway interchanges would replace all the current on/off ramps. The new superhighway might or might not have a service road, frontage road, or any other local access.

The project’s epicenter is the Sherron Road/Miami Boulevard/Route 70 intersection near Bethesda. This phase of the extensive freeway conversion is expected to cost a staggering $135 million.

US 70 and Eminent Domain

This project, like many other large-scale conversions, has both direct and indirect effects on property owners in the area.

Innumerable small businesses almost directly front onto Route 70. These businesses are highly dependent on vehicle traffic, If it is completely cut off, they might be forced to close. If access is restricted (i.e. motorists must go down and around), their business might fall off precipitously. Either way, the Route 70/Interstate 42 conversion basically shifts revenue from these businesses to the Crystal Coast.

NCDOT must not only compensate business owners whose buildings are demolished to make way for the new freeway. The agency must also compensate business owners who remain open but must make significant changes to stay afloat financially.

Private property is at stake as well. Several multifamily developments might have to be completely or partially demolished.

Additionally, as mentioned, there are thousands of single-family homes in about a half-dozen major subdivisions between Bethesda and the Interstate 540 interchange. These owners must deal with greatly increased freeway noise. 

As a rule of thumb, each two decibel noise increase lowers property values by about 1 percent. Most four-lane highways generate about 45 decibels of noise, especially if traffic moves relatively slowly. Most superhighways generate about 65 decibels of noise, especially if traffic moves freely. That’s a baseline 10 percent loss.

Contrary to popular myth, noise-related reductions are permanent. Once property values begin declining, they only get lower.

Contact Our Eminent Domain Attorneys in Raleigh Today

In eminent domain actions, it’s usually impossible to stop the government’s project. The only issue is how much the government must pay area landowners. So, your attorney must be a good negotiator as well as a good litigator.

Property owners deserve compensation for direct and indirect condemnation losses. For a consultation with a Raleigh eminent domain attorney, contact Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas at 919-615-2473 or fill out our contact form below. After-hours and home visits are available.

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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