RHODE ISLAND SUPREME COURT HOLDS OWNER ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION FOR LOSS OF DIRECT ACCESS TO HIGHWAY WHERE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS WAS NOT COMMITTED TO CONSTRUCTING A FRONTAGE ROAD ADJACENT TO THAT HIGHWAY

THE STATE PLANNED TO CONVERT THE GEORGE M. COHAN MEMORIAL BOULEVARD TO A LIMITED-ACCESS FREEWAY. THE OWNER OF CONTIGUOUS PROPERTY, ON WHICH A GASOLINE STATION WAS LOCATED, BROUGHT SUIT TO ENJOIN FROM OBSTRUCTING HIS ACCESS OR TO AWARD HIM JUST COMPENSATION. THE TRAIL COURT AWARDED HIM $68,028 AND BOTH PARTIES APPEALED. THE EVIDENCE SHOWED THAT IT WAS PROPOSED TO CONVERT A PORTION OF THE FREEWAY, ABUTTING THE OWNER'S PROPERTY, INTO A FRONTAGE ROAD. UPON COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT, THE SUBJECT PROPERTY WOULD STILL ABUT AND HAVE ACCESS TO THAT PORTION OF THE BOULEVARD INCLUDED WITHIN THE FRONTAGE ROAD BUT WOULD BE INACCESSIBLE TO THE MANY VEHICLES WHICH WOULD USE THE NEW EXPRESS LANES EXCEPT BY A DIFFICULT CIRCUITOUS ROUTE. THE COURT NOTED THAT THE ORIGINAL QUESTION WAS WHETHER AN ENFORCED SUBSTITUTION OF A RIGHT OF ACCESS FOR AN EXISTING DIRECT MEANS CONSTITUTED A TAKING REQUIRING COMPENSATION UNDER THE STATE CONSTITUTION. THE COURT STATED THAT IT DID NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION SINCE THERE WAS NO COMMITMENT THROUGH CONDEMNATION INSTRUMENTS TO CONSTRUCT AND PRESERVE THE FRONTAGE ROAD. THE DIRECTOR URGED THAT HIS GOOD FAITH AND INTEGRITY AND THAT OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS COMPELLED THE CONCLUSION THAT A FRONTAGE ROAD WOULD BE BUILT. THE COURT RULED THAT WHERE THE CONDEMNATION INSTRUMENTS IN NO WAY INHIBITED THE CONDEMNER FROM A COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF THE OWNER'S RIGHT OF ACCESS, THE MANDATE OF JUST COMPENSATION REQUIRED PAYMENT AS IF THE RIGHT WERE TO BE OBLITERATED. IN SHORT, IN CASES LIKE THIS, IF COMPENSATION WAS TO BE JUST, IT MUST BE MEASURED BY WHAT THE CONDEMNER COULD DO AND NOT BY WHAT HE INTENDED TO DO, THE RULE BEING THAT DAMAGES WERE TO BE ASSESSED ON THE MOST INJURIOUS METHOD OF CONSTRUCTION THAT WAS REASONABLY POSSIBLE. THE APPELLATE COURT, THEREFORE, AFFIRMED THE AWARD OF THE TRIAL COURT. (SULLIVAN V. MARCELLO, 214 A. 2D 181, NOV 1965)

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • No 32, pp 1-2
  • Publication Date: 1966-7

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  • Accession Number: 00238592
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 10 1994 12:00AM