Navigating Central I-35 Condemnation Proceedings

April 3, 2023

With construction of the Central Austin I-35 expansion project expected to begin in less than two years, TxDOT will soon begin approaching impacted landowners to begin the land survey and appraisal process that will determine the amount the state will offer for land taken. 

Under state law, TxDOT must make an initial offer and provide the landowner with an appraisal report that explains how TxDOT determined its offer amount. The property owner must be given at least 30 days to accept or decline TxDOT’s initial offer, after which the state can send its final offer.  The property owner must be given at least 14 days to accept or decline TxDOT’s final offer. If the owner does not accept this final offer, TxDOT can file a condemnation petition in the Travis County Probate Court to begin condemnation proceedings to take the property.

Once the petition has been filed, property owners can expect a court process that can last anywhere from several months to several years. Every case timeline is different depending on the Court’s docket and the disparity in land valuation between parties.

TxDOT’s petition can lead to two phases of court hearings. 

Special Commissioners’ Hearing

The Special Commissioners’ Court Hearing is made up of three nonpartisan property owners who live in the county and are appointed by the Travis County Probate Judge. The Commissioners convene an informal hearing, called a Special Commissioners’ Hearing, at which they will hear evidence of compensation from both parties.

During the hearing, the landowner typically presents his or her own appraiser as a witness who will render an opinion on the compensation amount. Similarly, the state will present its own appraiser as a witness. After the commissioners hear the evidence, they render an award and file it with the Probate Court.  Either party has the ability to appeal the award.

Civil Litigation or Trial

In appealing their case in civil court, property owners can choose to have their case decided by a six-person jury or a judge. The judge or jury would consider valuation and other evidence to determine the amount of just compensation owed to the landowner. Following this Court judgment, either party has the right to appeal the outcome of the lawsuit.

Experienced eminent domain attorneys can advocate for you

Barron, Adler, Clough & Oddo, PLLC has over 100 years of combined experience exclusively helping Texas property owners impacted by eminent domain. We understand the unique case of every property owner and the challenges they are up against.

If you think your property will be impacted by TxDOT’s Central I-35 Capital Express Project, contact us so we can help you better understand the takings process and advise you through the process.