According to Robin Richard’s article, “Needles May Exercise Eminent Domain to make way for Highway 95 Connector,” the City of Needles is considering adopting Resolutions of Necessity to acquire 14 parcels for its long-planned I-40 connector project. The City will be acquiring permanent road easements and temporary construction easements of various sizes. The impacted properties include residential, commercial and motel uses. Some of the acquisitions are fairly small, but as my colleague Brad Kuhn recently posted, even these sliver acquisitions can have impacts to the owners.
Traffic Relief for Key Corridor
The City is seeking to improve the connections between I-40 and Arizona 95, a heavily utilized corridor during the tourist season. According to the City, traffic volumes increase as much as 100% due to visitor and recreational traffic. The project will widen West Broadway, J Street, Needles Highway, North K Street and Harbor Avenue in Arizona. The project also includes improvements to several intersections. Currently, there are no signals at any of the intersections along the corridor, which leads to traffic delays and unsafe conditions.
Why Eminent Domain?
City council members may be sensitive about filing an eminent domain action, concerned that doing so may derail negotiations. But not necessarily. With good communication, productive negotiations can continue. In fact, we have successfully negotiated agreements for our agency clients even after the resolution is adopted. It appears that is what the City of Needles is trying to do here. The City’s staff report states that eminent domain is used as a “last resort.” The City intends to continue negotiating with the owners, but as we see quite often, must proceed with a resolution of necessity and filing of an eminent domain action in order to secure possession of the property to meet key contractual deadlines.