Extensive street renovations in semi-rural areas are some of the most disruptive kinds of projects. That’s what NCDOT plans to do to portions of U.S. 158 in Northampton County, not far from the Virginia border.
Recently, the agency made final plans for a major expansion which would affect not only Northampton County, but also Forsyth and Guilford Counties.
U.S. 158 is one of the main east-west thoroughfares in North Carolina. It runs from the Outer Banks on the Atlantic coast all the way to Winston-Salem. NCDOT believes the expansion would ease traffic congestion along this route.
But not everyone is happy. As far back as 2012, when NCDOT initially floated the idea of renovation, area business owners said the changes would direct traffic away from locally-owned enterprises and redirect it to large chain retailers. Area homeowners are also concerned about the effect freeway noise would have on their property values.
NC DOT’s Project Proposal for US 158
Work will concentrate on the stretch of U.S. 158 between Interstate 95 near Roanoke Rapids and U.S. 258 near Murfreesboro. NCDOT wants to widen this portion of U.S. 158 from two lanes to four lanes. Crews will also add a median and road shoulders. The agency insists the upgrade is necessary even though U.S. 64, another east-west pipeline a few miles to the south, is already a four-lane highway.
The most controversial part of the plan involves rerouting U.S. 158 and bypassing communities like Conway, Faison’s Old Tavern, Jackson, and Garysburg.
Right-of-way acquisition began in 2017. NCDOT has already bought some property, including some lift stations in Jackson, to make way for the new highway. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020 and end in 2023. The agency has earmarked a little over $13 million to compensate about 125 property owners.
Effect on NC Landowners
Many small businesses, especially restaurants, are almost completely dependent on foot traffic. Furthermore, when these owners apply for expansion loans, lenders closely scrutinize these statistics to help determine risk and reward.
Somewhat similarly, when most area residents bought their homes, U.S. 158 was a lightly-traveled two-lane road. Doubling its size and adding high-speed interchanges will significantly increase noise pollution. Furthermore, the most frequently used cure, sound barriers, might be worse than the disease. They make some property owners feel hemmed in, and they are often magnets for graffiti.
Your Legal Options
Many homeowners and business owners are fatalistic about the condemnation process. They receive an official offer from the state and believe that they must accept it. But that’s not true, especially with regard to NCDOT condemnations.
North Carolina law includes a rather unique “second check” option in these cases. Property owners can not only ask for second opinions without adversely affecting their property rights. The state’s first offer remains in force. So, if second check settlement negotiations break down, owners can always fall back on the first offer.
Our Raleigh eminent domain lawyers are not just aggressive litigators. They are also highly skilled negotiators. So, we make the most of your second check negotiations.
Contact Our Raleigh Eminent Domain Lawyers
Property owners have a strong voice in the condemnation process. For a free consultation with an experienced Raleigh eminent domain attorney, contact Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas. We routinely handle matters in Northampton County and nearby jurisdictions.