This paper, which attempts to illustrate where the courts draw the line between non-compensable and compensable impairments of access, discusses the extent to which access control to existing uncontrolled-access highways may be utilized without the necessity of compensation to abutting landowners for loss of access. It is noted that the abutting landowners' access is a constitutionally protected right of property; access can be acquired by purchase or condemnation; and access can be impaired significantly by various methods of state action. Cases are discussed which identify some of the elements considered and suggest some limits to the ability of the state to impair access without paying the abutting landowner. The decisions show that the underlying central issue is whether the landowner retains reasonable access that is suitable to the requirements of the abutting property. Consideration is given to the difficulty of the remaining access, the impact if any of the loss of access, the availability of other access, the degree of circuitry of travel and any other hardships. The often conflicting and irreconcilable decisions of the court are discussed. In spite of this inconsistency, however, many forms of access control, reasonably applied, may be used to control access to uncontrolled-access highways. It is concluded that as long as the impairment of access is reasonable and the abutting landowner retains suitable access to his property, there is no requirement of compensation.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Page range: pp 936-N21 through 936-N58. This paper was also published as NCHRP Research Results Digest No. 112, April 1979, 21 pages. A supplement to this paper by L.W. Thomas was published in Addendum 3, December 1982, pp 936-N58-S1 through 936-N58-S8.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Thomas, L W
  • Publication Date: 1979-6


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 00194398
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Addendum 1
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Aug 31 1998 12:00AM