The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is nearly ready to begin construction of a major road widening project in Dade City, Florida on the US 98 Bypass. Construction will span 1.6 miles from 7th Street South to 7th Street North and will transform the current two lanes into a major four lane roadway. Road plans also call for two new roundabouts within these limits to promote safer operations for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycle traffic. While the project is intended to alleviate congestion on this highly utilized road, the added lanes will have major impacts on the surrounding residents and businesses.
Approximately forty-six property owners situated along the road will undergo eminent domain, in which the government will acquire part or all of their land in order to make this road project possible. Properties that will require right-of-way acquisition include single family residences, as well as commercial buildings such as offices, stores, service shops, and a church. While most of these property owners will lose just a portion of their land, some owners will have to relocate altogether.
The FDOT has budgeted nearly $62 million for the project, with over $18 million allocated towards property acquisition needs. Currently, the project is well underway with property appraisals and acquisitions. During the appraisal process, the condemning authority performs site inspections to appraise each property, determine improvements to be taken, and offer severance damages if any. While some owners may decide to accept the offer given by the condemning authority, many have chosen to be represented by attorneys who practice in the field of eminent domain.
While the property appraiser hired by the government may think that they are offering fair compensation, the attorneys at Policastro Law Group and experts they retain understand eminent domain law as it pertains to real estate valuation, including engineering and land planning. Policastro Law Group is a well-established law firm with attorneys Anthony Policastro and Eric Ryder having approximately fifty years of combined experience handling eminent domain cases in Florida. The attorneys not only ensure their clients are fully compensated for the land taken and severance damages if any, but they assist them in obtaining any variances necessitated by the condemning authority’s taking. Policastro Law Group’s results for the hundreds of clients they’ve represented show significant increases from the original offers made by the condemning authority.
For this road project, the roundabouts to be constructed will be adjacent to residential homes. In addition to these homeowners losing a portion of their property, they must also deal with the problems associated with roundabouts, which include an increase in traffic noise and bright headlights shining into their homes as cars go around the roundabout at night. Policastro Law Group will address these important points when negotiating, either by getting their clients paid to fix the problem (through landscaping or fencing), or by monetary compensation for the damages.
With the acquisition process nearing completion, road construction may begin as soon as by the end of 2023, although there is not yet an official commencement date. This new four lane bypass will meet the needs of a growing population in Dade City, but with larger roads comes more noise pollution to the surrounding community. While road improvement projects may not be an ideal situation for the property owners affected, Policastro Law Group is here to help those impacted by eminent domain across Florida receive the proper guidance and full compensation they deserve.