Q & A for Affected Property Owners

What Kinds of Right-of-Way Are Needed for the Project?
Most times, the MCTA only needs to buy a piece or a small strip of a property, although some parcels need to be acquired in full. In some instances, the MCTA only needs easements on a property, which means that the owner keeps his ground, but the MCTA can use the surface for things like staging equipment during construction or building a sidewalk. The MCTA pays property owners for these easements too.

Who is the MCTA’s Right-of-way Agent?
Arrow Land Solutions is the MCTA’s right-of-way negotiator for the project. Arrow is currently working on multiple projects for PennDOT around the state of Pennsylvania, including U.S. 202 Section 600 and the Arcola Road bridge reconstruction in Montgomery County as well as I-95 in Philadelphia.

What is Eminent Domain (also known as condemnation)?
It is the process used to require a sale between a government agency and a property owner. It is not a seizure or forfeiture of land.

Does the MCTA Use Eminent Domain to Acquire Properties?
Only as a last option; the MCTA’s goal is to come to a friendly sale with each property owner. It is only used if the property owner does not reply to the offer, refuses to sell, or cannot reach an agreement with the MCTA.

Can the MCTA Use Eminent Domain to Acquire Properties Not Needed for the Project?
No. Federal and state laws mandate that land cannot be acquired for anything other than the purpose of improving the roads. All acquisitions must be included on the engineer’s ROW plans, which are reviewed by PennDOT.

Can the MCTA Seize Land Without Paying for It?
No. Whether the MCTA acquires land through a friendly sale or through eminent domain, the property owner always receives money for his or her property, and that value is always set through a neutral independent appraisal.

Does the MCTA Compensate Renters and Homeowners for Having to Move?
Yes. Homeowners and renters are each entitled to relocation benefits. Homeowners are reimbursed for moving costs and for professional services (such as hiring a lawyer or having their own appraisal done). By law, renters are given a payment that helps supplement their rent for a certain amount of time and are also reimbursed for moving costs.

How Do I Know the Appraisal is Accurate and the Offer is Fair?
The MCTA uses only certified appraisers who are also on PennDOT’s approved appraiser list. In addition, the appraiser uses up to three different methods to value the property and each appraisal is reviewed by another fully certified appraisal company.

Who is Making Sure the MCTA Abides by All Federal and State Acquisition Laws?
The Lafayette Street Extension Project receives 80% of its funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which means that all acquisition activities must carefully follow procedures outlined in federal law. These procedures have evolved over the years to ensure that property owners and renters are treated fairly and respectfully. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also has its own property acquisition laws. Both the FHWA and PennDOT oversee the project’s right-of-way activities to make certain that all regulations are being followed.