As mentioned before on this blog, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) has a plan in place to improve Harrisburg’s Beltway. The I-83 Master Plan is the agency’s effort to address worsening road conditions, high traffic volumes, and safety along the I-83 corridor through Harrisburg. More details about the plan can be found here: I83 Capital Beltway- Home (i-83beltway.com).
The project, like many other initiatives, has been delayed by the pandemic, but PennDOT is now moving forward with its plans to complete Section II and Section III of the Master Plan. The agency has begun its efforts to acquire the land it needs to expand the highway. PennDOT needs to acquire all the necessary property interests before it can have highway construction contractors bid on contracts to complete the work.
Although actual construction is still many months away, property owners and tenants near I-83 are being contacted by PennDOT now with offers to purchase their property. Because I-83 cuts directly through the City in a densely populated area, numerous individual properties are affected by the expansion of the highway and many businesses and individuals could be receiving notice shortly that PennDOT needs to acquire their properties.
PennDOT must compensate property owners when it acquires their property and, similarly, a tenant is entitled to compensation if its property interest, i.e. its lease, is affected by PennDOT’s actions. Both landowners and tenants will be receiving notices from PennDOT in the coming weeks.
If PennDOT and the holder of the property interest needed by PennDOT cannot agree on a payment amount, PennDOT has the power of eminent domain, which it can use to acquire the property through condemnation. But even if the condemnation power is used, PennDOT is still required to pay compensation to the property owner or tenant, although the holder of the property interest has the opportunity to litigate for additional compensation. There are also other payments available to affected parties depending upon their particular circumstances, including payment of moving expenses and payment for increased mortgage costs.
PennDOT has started issuing Notices of Acquisition. If your property is affected, or if you have any questions about this blog post, contact the Eminent Domain professionals at McNees for assistance.