Kerr Avenue Widening Project a Tip of the Iceberg for Larger Improvements

Lauren Atkins

Project Number: U-3338B

Project dates: Right-of-Way Acquisition began in 2012.

In Wilmington, drivers don’t have a lot of options for traveling north or south. The central part of the city is particularly congested with motorists. Most of them are trying to navigate College Road, which connects with most of the east to west routes in the city. Unfortunately, College Road is not particularly well designed for improvements. Development on both sides of the roadway make it virtually impossible to add more lanes.

That’s why the North Carolina Department of Transportation, or NCDOT, has turned its attention to Kerr Avenue. This is another north-south thoroughfare. Like College Road, Kerr becomes highly congested. The NCDOT proposes to widen a nearly two mile stretch of Kerr that will give the roadway four lanes of travel, a 10 foot wide landscaped median and dedicated bicycle lanes. The portion of the road that is affected by the plan runs between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and the Randall Parkway.

The NCDOT began contacting property owners along the route in June of 2012. Home and business owners received letters detailing the upcoming project and how it was likely to affect their property. That’s when many of them began to be concerned. The land along Kerr Avenue is well developed and lined with businesses and residential homes. It seemed that very few of the structures along the 1.7 mile route would remain unscathed.

As necessary as the improvements to Kerr may be, these property owners can easily feel that the price of progress is too high. To make matters even more complicated, the widening of Kerr Avenue is really only one piece of the project. The NCDOT is also considering adding more lanes to Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and extending Independence Boulevard. The overall project will include the addition of multiple intersections, overpasses and interchanges. It seems clear that many more property owners will be impacted by an eminent domain taking before the improvements are complete.

When a North Carolina landowner receives a notice about eminent domain from the NCDOT, it can be devastating. Most people consider the situation highly unfair and may be unwilling to sell their property at any price. Unfortunately, the government can simply condemn the property, beginning a legal process to obtain the land whether the owner is amenable or not.

North Carolina property owners have legal rights in any condemnation action. An experienced eminent domain attorney like the practitioners at Cranfill Sumner can help to ensure fair treatment. Moreover, working with a Wilmington condemnation attorney guarantees that the NCDOT must live up to its legal obligations to provide just compensation to property owners.

Lauren AtkinsKerr Avenue Widening Project a Tip of the Iceberg for Larger Improvements