NCDOT plans to transform a quiet highway underpass on the edge of a residential neighborhood into a high-volume freeway interchange. How will this proposed $18 million project affect nearby homeowners?

Currently, Ligon Road is the preferred route for people in the rapidly-growing eastern Raleigh suburbs who need to get to Wake Forest and other areas to the north, and Route 401 transports many people from the semi-rural northeast past Interstate 540 and into Raleigh.

Officials admit that, even if they pursue a conservative approach, they must demolish almost two dozen homes to make room for the expansion. As far as area homeowners are concerned, these demolitions might just be the tip of the iceberg.

A Closer Look at the US 401 Expansion

NCDOT says that about 55,000 vehicles pass through this area every day, and that volume will nearly double by 2040. However, it’s not clear how many of these commuters exit or enter Route 401 and how many simply keep going to their final destinations. Planners say that by eliminating the stoplight and converting the intersection to an interchange, traffic will flow much better.

The current timeline calls for NCDOT to make a final design determination in 2020, when property acquisition will begin. Construction is slated to start in 2022.

NCDOT believes the project will not be disruptive, except for the aforementioned demolitions. So, the agency has earmarked less than $4 million for property acquisition. As a result, area homeowners should carefully consider the financial offers they receive, because they might be too low.

How Eminent Domain Factors into Road Expansion

When government agencies seize property under the constitution’s eminent domain clause, they must not simply pay what they believe the property is worth. They must pay the fair market value of the land’s highest and best use. 

The vacant property around the U.S. 401/Ligon Mill Road/Mitchell Mill Road Intersection is a good illustration. Vehicle traffic is projected to go through the roof over the next several years. Thus, that land is quite valuable to commercial developers. Eminent domain compensation must reflect that reality.

Legal Options for Homeowners in Cases of Land Condemnation

Many homeowners believe that official offers from NCDOT are essentially take-it-or-leave-it offers. But that’s not true. These offers are always negotiable, especially in light of North Carolina’s second check eminent domain provision.

Homeowners in Neuse Trail Estates, High Meadows, and especially Neuse Crossing might see their property values plummet because of freeway noise. These landowners have an absolute right to order their own appraisals and obtain their own FMV estimates. 

If the second check appraiser does not believe the FMV of the HBU is higher than NCDOT’s offer, that offer is still on the table. So, homeowners have nothing to lose. Our Raleigh eminent domain lawyers can connect landowners with top real estate appraisers who concentrate on areas like this one.

Contact an Eminent Domain Attorney in Raleigh

Property owners have a strong voice in the condemnation process, but having an experienced eminent domain attorney in Raleigh fighting for you can lead to less stress and a more positive outcome. To schedule a consultation, contact Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas at 919-615-2473 or fill out our contact form below. We work with clients across North Carolina to fight for their rights and fair compensation.