Project Update: Right-of-Way
The footprint of the Ohio River Bridges mega project crosses some 300 privately or commercially owned properties. As the project prepares to enter the right-of-way and utility phases, some of these properties will need to be acquired in preparation for construction. Both phases could begin later this year once formal right-of-way funding is approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
“For a project as massive as this, having 300 properties come into play for right-of-way is a pretty low number. I think it shows the tremendous amount of planning that went into impacting the fewest number of homes and businesses as possible,” says Matt Bullock, interim project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).
The cost of purchasing properties in Downtown Louisville and Eastern Jefferson County is estimated at $92.7 million. In Indiana, approximately $73.9 million is estimated for right-of-way in Jeffersonville and Utica. These estimates are based on the Initial Financial Plan. They will be revised based on actual appraisals and purchases.
Residents in Eastern Jefferson County are affected in greater numbers by the project’s right-of-way process. The preliminary right-of-way plans for the East End are complete. This clears the way for the state to begin acquiring land, but only in cases in which the entire property is being taken.
Right-of-way plans have been finalized for the area in downtown Louisville affected by the reconstruction of the Kennedy Interchange. This means acquisition of all affected property can begin once funding is authorized. On the Indiana side, right-of-way plans are still being developed for the Utica and Jeffersonville areas. Both states will acquire land based on available funding and priority need.
While right-of-way plans are subject to change, the current plan calls for the following:
In an effort to keep residents informed about the right-of-way process, public meetings will likely be held this fall in Kentucky to outline the right-of-way process and potential schedules. Once started, the right-of-way process will take several years to complete. Due to the number of properties involved, all appraisals will not occur at the same time. The first property owners could be approached later this year, while the right-of-way process in other areas may not begin until much later.
An independent state certified appraiser will be assigned to assess the fair market value of each property. Each owner will be offered the opportunity to accompany the appraiser during the site evaluation. Once an appraisal is approved, the Section Design Consultants will be authorized to prepare an offer to the property owner. All right-of-way acquisitions will be purchased in accordance with federal laws and regulations.