Widening of I-85 in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties May Be Bad News for Property Owners

Lauren Atkins

Project Date: Phase one construction underway in 2015; Phase two expected to begin in 2018.

Project Number: I-3802A and I-3802B

For more than two decades, North Carolina officials have known that I-85 needed significant improvement. It simply doesn’t have sufficient lanes to accommodate the growing populations in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties. To make matters worse, many of the overpasses on I-85 were constructed in the 1960s when vertical clearance allowances were much lower than they are today. These deficiencies mean that I-85 is a mess of snarled traffic seven days a week.

North Carolina Department of Transportation project number I-3802 is expected to eliminate many of these problems. The overall project is divided into two sections. I-3802A, the first section, adds four travel lanes to I-85 along an eight mile stretch in Cabarrus County. Running between Exit 55 and Exit 63, the current widening project is an extension of earlier improvements. The second section, designated as I-3802B, may begin construction around 2018. Its focus is I-85 in Rowan County between Lane Street and the US 29-601 Connector. Completion of this two phase project is expected to relieve congestion between Charlotte and Greensboro.

Also included in the widening plan is the reconstruction of several interchanges to upgrade and update them to meet current code standards. Two bridges will also be replaced at the Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing and at US 29 in China Grove.

A dangerous at grade railroad crossing at Winecoff School Road will also be eliminated. A bridge will be constructed in its place. Though this is likely to mean fewer accidents, it is still a cause for concern for local business owners as their establishments are likely to be cut off from the main thoroughfares when construction is complete.

Those business owners are not the only people who might be affected to the I-85 widening project in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties. Dozens of homes are subject to eminent domain claims by the NCDOT. Moreover, the department has already announced that an entire strip mall will have to be razed to accommodate the changes.

Currently, the NCDOT has budgeted $38,000,000 to purchase right-of-way from existing property owners. Home and business owners living along the affected section of I-85 in Cabarrus County have probably already been approached by state officials claiming eminent domain. Other property owners in Rowan County can expect to be contacted sometime in 2018.

The law requires that the NCDOT and other government entities provide just compensation to property owners in a right-of-way acquisition. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to agree on precisely what “just compensation” means. The NCDOT is interested in acquiring the property at a bargain price, but that bargain is usually at the expense of the property owner’s best interests. If you’ve been approached by the NCDOT or another government agency concerning a potential eminent domain claim, then it’s time to contact the Raleigh eminent domain attorneys at Cranfill Sumner. With their years of experience and carefully acquired skills, they are well qualified to guide North Carolina property owners through the right-of-way acquisitions process.

Lauren AtkinsWidening of I-85 in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties May Be Bad News for Property Owners