A Raleigh Eminent Domain Attorney for the I-95 Widening Project

The I-95 Widening project is a two-phase project in which NCDOT is going to widen about 25 miles of Interstate 95 north of Fayetteville to an eight lane highway. In addition to the added lanes, there will be additional overpasses, loops, and ramps created, while access roads will be shifted to make way for the wider highway.

Phase One covers exit 56 through exit 71 in Harnett County, and is supposed to begin in Fall 2019. Phase Two begins at exit 71 at Long Branch Road and will end where it meets I-40 in Johnston County, and construction is scheduled to begin in Fall 2020.

Purpose of the I-95 Widening Project

The section of I-95 is an important part of the local, state, and national infrastructure, serving commerce, residents, and the military, while even benefiting tourism. Additionally, I-95 is an essential part of North Carolina’s hurricane evacuation route.

According to NCDOT, the section of I-95 being expanded has the highest traffic volume in the state. Adding lanes and supporting infrastructure will ease congestion, support further growth, and reduce traffic jams and accidents. This project is budgeted for over $700 million dollars, $94 million budgeted for property acquisition.

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Understanding Eminent Domain in North Carolina

Eminent domain is the legal right the government has to obtain private property provided they compensate the private owner of the property. Property obtained via eminent domain is generally meant to be used for either public good or to improve economic developers.

In the case of NCDOT projects like widening I-95, these are considered beneficial to the public, and thus, they can use eminent domain to obtain private property. However, property owners are entitled to fair compensation which the state may not offer. In this situation, if NCDOT contacts you about your property, it’s important to work with an experienced eminent domain attorney in Raleigh to make sure you are getting the fair compensation your property is worth.

Land Condemnation and Eminent Domain

In an eminent domain case, land condemnation refers to the act of seizing property.  In this context, it doesn’t refer to condemning property or land due to sanitation or hazards.

The Process of Eminent Domain in North Carolina

When a state department, in this case, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, announces a public project, they hold multiple meetings that are open to the public. They provide information about the project, including environmental impacts and how it can affect public property.

When the project is in the preparation stages, if you are contacted about your property, it’s essential to reach out to an eminent domain lawyer to advocate on your behalf during the process. That process goes like this:

  • The government will send a representative to inspect and appraise your property.
  • You and your eminent domain attorney will select your own appraiser to assess the property.
  • The government will make an offer based on what their appraiser recommended, which may or may not be appropriate.
  • If the property owner and the government agree on the offered amount, the sale will move forward.
  • If compensation cannot be agreed upon, eminent domain proceedings will begin.

Eminent Domain Proceedings

Eminent domain proceedings do not necessarily begin with negotiations. This is how the process works:

  • The government starts the eminent domain proceeding by filing a complaint and declaration of taking in the superior court of the county where the property is located.
  • The property owner or NCDOT requests the appointment of commissioners within 60 days after the property owner files their answer to the complaint. The commissioners are disinterested property owners who live in the county.
  • The commissioners will visit the property, listen to testimony, and hold hearings to determine compensation.
  • If the property owner is still not satisfied with the compensation, he or she can appeal within 30 days and the case will be heard by a jury.

Eminent Domain Resources for Landowners

During the planning stage of new projects, NCDOT does strive to minimize the amount of homes and businesses affected. In the case of the I-95 expansion, they know some people will be impacted. Fortunately, they do offer relocation assistance for residents and businesses displaced by eminent domain.

Assistance can take a variety of forms, including paying rent, moving costs, and storage fees. When you work with an attorney experienced in eminent domain cases, they will help you determine what types of assistance you can receive.

Eminent Domain Lawyer in Raleigh

If your property lies on or near the land needed to expand I-95 between mile marker 56 and mile marker 81 or around any infrastructure that needs to be built, NCDOT may acquire it using eminent domain. If you are contacted by a Right of Way agent regarding this project in Harnett and Johnston Counties,  call our Raleigh law firm immediately at (919) 615-2473 or complete the form below. We will guide you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your time, property, and any other associated costs.

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