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Waiting on a Road Project? You Might Have to Start All Over Again Under the Strategic Mobility Formula

I am going to talk about something many of you will never have heard of - the North Carolina Department of Transportation's "Strategic Mobility Formula."

Why the Strategic Mobility Formula Is Important to You

Many of our readers are living in limbo, some for a very long time. The DOT has announced projects that will take your homes or businesses or change your neighborhoods beyond recognition, but for many, it continues to not happen.

As a result, they've frozen your ability to develop and made your properties much harder to sell - indefinitely.

The DOT has likely held public hearings, information sessions, and made announcements about the coming project. People have gotten fired-up and resigned. But, year after year, nothing happens.

People start to forget, until they are reminded when they try to develop their property, add onto their house, or sell. And every once in a while, the DOT makes another announcement.

If you're "in limbo," waiting for a project to begin, there are certain steps you may be able to take now if you need to develop or sell. Contact an NC Eminent Domain Attorney for more information.

No Money = No Projects

What people don't realize is that the DOT makes these announcements, holds these public hearings, and applies Corridor Protection Maps, all without having the money to build the new freeway, loop, road or bridge. In fact, there are almost always more projects than money.

Projects across North Carolina are being delayed (or could soon face delays), such as the:

Competing for Money the Old Way (Political Wars)

Historically, the projects competed for construction dollars championed by local organizations (metropolitan planning organizations, counties, cities, etc.) and local DOT board members.

Each DOT board member generally decided which projects would be funded within their territories. Sometimes, the local authorities championing the project were led by a person who was also the DOT board member.

As you might guess, what got funded was often a political issue - who was asking for the project versus the technical merits of the projects.

In a time when wars and rumors of wars threaten, some of you will be wondering "who would care about where a road goes?"

But, if you ask yourself which is more valuable - land in the middle of nowhere or next to an interchange, you can see at its most basic, why roads matter.

Competing for Money the New Way (Strategic Mobility Formula)

The Strategic Mobility Formula is designed to do two things:

1) First it is designed to minimize politics in deciding which projects get funded.

2) And second, it is designed to replace politics with a more technical, data-driven formula for deciding which projects get funded.

For those of you living under the threat of condemnation:

Wherever you thought you were in the process of your project being funded or your property taken, all prior decisions are being revisited from start to finish.

For all projects not funded for construction by July 1, 2015, they will be forced to compete for funding under this "Strategic Mobility Formula."

Road_06062014What "Data" Will the Strategic Mobility Formula Use?

According to the NCDOT, they will use the following types of data to calculate the importance of each project.

  • Congestion - How much traffic the road in question gets and how much it can handle (its volume and capacity).
  • Benefit/Cost - Data found by calculating the expected travel time savings over 30 years, then divided by costs of the project (right of way acquisition, utilities, and construction). Local funding will be subtracted from the cost prior to calculation.
  • Safety - Critical crash rate, crash density (number of crashes), severity index over last 3 years.
  • Economic Development (Economic Competitiveness) - Found by calculating the expected travel time savings and comparing how it will change a given area (Ex - cutting travel time to downtown Charlotte in half, would have a different impact than cutting the same amount of travel time in a much smaller city) and the number of long-term jobs a reduced travel time may create. These estimated benefits are realized over a 30-year period.
  • Pavement Condition - Data from latest pavement condition survey.
  • Lane width and (paved) shoulder width - Data from existing department databases on existing conditions.
  • Multi-modal - Existing traffic volume, capacity of roadway, direct connection to a transportation terminal, truck volume.

How Will the Strategic Mobility Formula Work?

The Strategic Mobility Formula divides projects into three categories and allows for some level of local input in each of the categories. It's broken down as follows:

Statewide Level - Projects of statewide significance

  • Amount of budget allotted: 40% - $6 billion over 10 years
  • Method: 100% data driven

Regional Level - The division of the money will be weighted by the regional population & adjacent regions will compete for these dollars.

  • Amount of budget allotted: 30% - $4.5 billion over 10 years
  • Method: 70% data and 30% regional vote

Local/Divisional Level -The 100 counties in the state are grouped into 14 divisions. At the regional level, different divisions compete against each other for funds. At the local level, the communities with a single division will compete for these funds.

  • Amount of budget allotted: 30% - $4.5 billion over 10 years
  • Method: 50% data and 50% local ranking

What does the Strategic Mobility Formula Mean for Me?

The DOT and governor's office expect that by taking politics largely out of the funding decision and inserting objective criteria, they will be able to use the same money to do more projects (260 versus 175 under the old plan) and create more jobs (240,000 versus 174,000).

While this is undoubtedly good for the state, what specifically does it mean for you living in the shadow land condemnation?

If your project has not been funded for construction by July 1, 2015, it means uncertainty. The DOT is set to release its preliminary priorities by March 31st, so I will update you then.

Worried about how much money you'll receive when the NCDOT decides to finally buy your land, house, or business? We may be able to help! Contact us now for a free case evaluation.

Information about "superstreet" construction projects in North Carolina. Contact us today to discuss your legal options with an experienced attorney.

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