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Section 12: Control of Access Rights (for State and LPA)

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The right of access to an existing highway is a part of the rights possessed by the owner of abutting property. These access rights include the right of ingress and egress and the right of direct access to and from the abutting property.

The entire interstate highway system and portions of the state highway system may be designated by the Commission as controlled access highways. Consequently, along these controlled access highways, it may be necessary to either limit or completely deny access to abutting properties.

This access may also be controlled under the state's police power, including at entrance ramps, exit ramps, intersections, and other affected areas. Although this right may be limited or completely denied under the state's police power, property owners may be entitled to compensation for damages suffered due to loss of this access.

Under the provisions of Section 203.034 of the Transportation Code, abutting property owners are denied access to any new location controlled access highway, unless there is a specific grant of access. Damages may not be claimed for denial of access to the new facility. The reasoning is that the owner cannot be damaged by losing something that he never had.

If an existing road is converted into a controlled access facility and the design does not include initial construction of frontage roads, there may be a taking of the owner's access rights. However, there is no taking of access rights if:

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  • an existing road is converted into a controlled access facility, and
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  • the design includes frontage roads in the initial construction, and
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  • the abutting owner is provided access to these frontage roads. (Note that access to frontage roads constitutes access to the facility.)

Further control of movement on the frontage roads may be required. This may include one-way traffic, no U-turns, no left or right turns, denial of direct access to through lanes, or circuitous routes. These controls are covered under the state's police power and place no more control over the abutting owner than is placed on the public. These controls are not compensable. However, Section 21.042 of the Property Code requires compensation when there is a "material impairment of direct access on or off the remaining property that affects the market value of the remaining property."

When only access rights (and no additional right of way) are being acquired, TxDOT will not purchase or condemn unless our appraiser finds a material impairment of direct access on and off the property that affects the market value. Absent that finding, access will be controlled via the police power rather than acquiring the access rights.

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