Rights-of-way to be purchased for U.S. 1 project

January 24, 2014

Kevin Spradlin

The administrative portion of major road construction project in Richmond County is about to get underway.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will soon begin contacting property owners along U.S. Route 1 between an area north of Fox Road, or State Route 1606, to Marston Road, also known as State Route 1001.

John Olinger, division construction engineer with N.C. DOT, said the 3.56-mile section is part of a “strategic highway corridor” on which traffic is projected to increase from a current rate of 9,500 vehicles per day to approximately 15,000 vehicles per day 20 years from now.

Olinger said construction, set to begin in August or September 2014, could last 30 months at a cost of $15.25 million. It’s the smallest part of a project that is estimated to cost nearly $242 million and widen U.S. 1 from the South Carolina border north into Moore County.

At the southern end of the project near Fox Road, Olinger said there will be a short four-lane section because that will be the part that splits off to build the new road for the second and third phases of construction, which will eventually widen U.S. 1 to South Carolina.

Before any grading, drainage work or paving is done, however, DOT workers must secure the right-of-way by purchasing land from existing property owners.

“They are currently buying right-of-way right now,” Olinger said, “for the portion that goes along by the race track.”

Olinger didn’t immediately have the number of affected properties available, but he said DOT makes contact with all the affected property owners to “show ‘em what’s coming.”

Once property appraisals are completed, the state offers “fair market value” for each parcel, Olinger said.

“Some folks are pleased with that (initial offer),” Olinger said. “Some aren’t. If they’re not pleased with that … it’s a negotiation process to some degree. We try to be fair.”

Olinger said that if the state and property owner can’t come to terms, the land in question is put into condemnation, which is the process that can result in eminent domain — that is, the state’s power to “divest right, title or interest from the owner of property … against the will of the owner upon payment of just compensation.”

Approximately $2,253,000 of the $15.25 million is expected to be used to purchase rights-of-way.