Traffic Engineer Opines On Eminent Domain Dispute

    Traffic Engineering ExpertThis case involves an eminent domain dispute. A road project planned by a state department of transportation and a state highway administration was set to cut through the intersection of two roads in two different states. The plaintiff owned a large, historic property situated between the two roads. The condemnation included a strip of land belonging to the plaintiff which abutted one of the roads. The department of transportation and highway administration claimed that the condemnation of this land was for the purpose of adjusting the road to allow for left turns to be made. It was alleged by the plaintiff that the condemnation was unnecessary and did not serve any legitimate public purpose. An experienced traffic engineer was sought to conduct an on-site study of traffic patterns and traffic volume and opine on whether the condemnation was necessary.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please describe your experience with traffic engineering.
    • 2. Are you familiar with condemnation actions?

    Expert Witness Response E-061382

    I am an independent registered professional engineer and a board-certified professional traffic operations engineer specializing in traffic safety and operations. Left-turn lanes may or may not be recommended at an intersection based on a traffic study that takes into account several factors affecting safety and capacity. Based on standard traffic engineering principles, factors influencing the decision for construction of a left-turn lane include prevailing traffic conditions, peak-hour traffic volumes, intersection sight distance, roadway alignment, intersection geometry, number of travel lanes, type of traffic control (i.e., traffic signals, stop signs, etc.) and crash history. Depending on the basis on which a need is established (i.e., safety vs. capacity), alternative treatments may be available to achieve the objectives of a project where appropriate existing right-of-way is not available. Many times, other roadway improvement strategies are available to minimize potential impacts on adjacent properties while achieving the desired traffic operation results. There is a due process that the SHA would need to go through. The question is, did they do what they were supposed to do?

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