Eminent Domain is the power of the government to take private property for a public purpose.  What is the public purpose?  In most cases involving the NCDOT, it involves a road project.  The information below will give you a better understanding as to how a road gets built and the timing behind the acquisition of your property by the government.  As set forth below, there are six phase to a road construction project.



  • DOT’s Planning Branch helps metropolitan planning organizations, small urban areas and counties across the state to develop comprehensive transportation plans that outline transportation priorities that are based on future land use, employment and population changes.
  • The goal of the planning phase is to create a State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) – a 10 year State and Federal-mandated plan that identifies the construction funding for and scheduling of transportation projects throughout the state. 



  • The needs identified in the planning stage are then evaluated to help prioritize funding and, ultimately, construction for transportation projects.
  • Based on the review process, a determination is made as to which projects will be funded in NCDOT’s 10-year State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
  • The STIP is updated every two years to be sure that it accurately reflects the state’s current financial situation.


Project Development

  • After a project is funded, NCDOT’s Project Development and Environmental Analysis Branch evaluates proposed projects according to established engineering practices and guidelines set forth by federal and state laws and regulations.
  • The process also involves design and traffic engineering studies.
  • As part of this process, NCDOT informs the public about proposed projects and seeks input through public meetings.   



  • Information collected during the Project Development phase is used to determine where and how a road will be built.  In some cases, NCDOT will design alternate plans for the same road design.
  • Design engineers then prepare detailed plans for the roadway within the selected location.  
  • Based on the detailed technical plans, NCDOT will prepare contract documents and advertisements for contractors wishing to place bides on a project. 


Property Acquisition

  • Right of way, the process of obtaining any property needed to complete roadway projects, is the last major step before a project is released to bidders for construction.
  • As part of the property acquisition process, NCDOT attempts to negotiate the settlement of the eminent domain case.  If a voluntary settlement is not possible, then NCDOT will initiate condemnation proceedings by filing a complaint in Superior Court along with a deposit of funds which usually equals the initial determination of value thorough the use of its own appraiser. 



  • Once a road’s design is complete and property is acquired, NCDOT advertises to contractors that it is accepting bids for construction.
  • Contract award are made and NCDOT’s Division of Highways administers the contracts.  In so doing, the NCDOT resident engineer provide local project management and work with the contractor to complete the road project.