Removing direct access points to highway does not constitute taking of property.
National Auto Truckstops, Inc. (National) owns a truck stop at the intersection of two highways. In 1996, the Department of Transportation (DOT) acquired .27 acres of the truck stop's frontage along one of the highways as part of a planned reconstruction of the intersection. Prior to reconstruction, the truck stop had two direct access points on one of the highways, one intended for trucks and the other for automobiles. After reconstruction, all vehicles had to enter the truck stop via a frontage road, which could only be accessed by an intersection north of the property. A jury awarded National $275,000 in damages for the property condemned. National appealed.
On appeal, National argued that the trial court erred when it excluded evidence relating to the damages National experienced as a result of its loss of access to the adjoining road. Essentially, National argued that it had a right of access to the highway and the DOT project deprived it of that right. The court said that the property owner's right is to access the highway, but not necessarily through direct access points. "Deprivation of direct access to a highway," the court said, "does not constitute a taking of property providing a reasonable access remains." Here, the court said, National still had access to the highway through the frontage road. A frontage road provides reasonable access to and from a landowner's property, the court said. The trial court decision was affirmed.
Nat. Auto Truckstops v. Dept. of Transp.
Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
December 17, 2002
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