The Texas Department of Transportation has made a final decision on its preferred alignment for the US 380 Bypass project near McKinney in Collin County. In September, TxDOT published a final environmental impact statement and record of decision document, which can be viewed at

According to the document, constructing the chosen alignment is projected to cost about $3.27 billion and is the second-least expensive option. The blue alignment could potentially displace the highest number of businesses—38—and the second highest number of residences—26—according to the TxDOT document.

So, what happens next? While the United States and Texas constitutions give government entities such as TxDOT the power to take private property for public use projects, they also stipulate that landowners must be fairly compensated for their property.

Barron, Adler, Clough & Oddo specializes in representing property owners in these eminent domain cases, and the firm has been helping property owners throughout Texas get compensation for more than 35 years.

Barron Adler partner, Nick Laurent, said the firm has seen every kind of condemnation case imaginable, from individual landowners to large corporations. The US 380 project is unique because many portions of the highway will be new, which means TxDOT will be cutting through farm and ranch land that is effectively vacant.

How does condemnation work?

The state’s condemnation process is spelled out in the Texas Property Code and requires the condemnor to send a variety of documents, including:
  • An initial and final monetary offer to the property owner
  • A copy of the landowner’s bill of rights
  • A copy of the instrument that the condemnor wants the landowner to sign, such as a deed
  • A survey that shows precisely the boundaries of the property that the condemnor seeks to acquire
  • An appraisal report, which explains how TxDOT’s appraiser arrived at their appraisal number
Laurent said the primary disagreement in many condemnation cases is about money. If an agreement cannot be reached during preliminary negotiations, the condemnor files a lawsuit to forcibly take the property from the landowners. The court in which the case is filed will appoint three people called special commissioners as well as two alternates for the purpose of a preliminary valuation hearing.

The special commissioners will convene the preliminary valuation hearing and listen to evidence from both parties to determine the compensation amount. The special commissioners then issue an award based on the evidence they received in the hearing and that award gets filed back with the court. The condemnor then has the statutory right under the Texas Property Code to deposit the amount awarded by the special commissioners into the registry of the Court, which is similar to an escrow account that the Court maintains. In doing so, the condemnor has the statutory right to take possession of the property being condemned, so they can begin working on the project.

Laurent said landowners who receive offers from TxDOT for the US 380 project should not sign anything until they have a lawyer look at the documents, because there is no way to undo the transaction after an agreement has been reached.

“This is a one-time payment for all of the impacts to a property that's being taken or affected by a project like this,” Laurent said. “It’s incredibly important that you get it right on the first instance because there is no second instance once the acquisition is completed.”

Remainder damages, which is any diminished value to some or all of the property that is outside of the taking, are particularly relevant on the US 380 project because on many impacted properties there is currently no highway. This can cause different issues than, for example, the expansion of an already existing highway into adjacent properties.

Laurent said an example of this on rural or undeveloped tracts of land would be if a new portion of US 380 created small, orphaned-off areas that can never be used functionally.

“That [piece of land] that has lost all of its functional utility should be damaged,” Laurent said. “The landowner should be paid for that portion of the property that no longer has any viable uses into perpetuity.”

While the land value disagreement is fairly easy to understand, the remainder damages component is more complicated and may not be as apparent to someone who doesn’t have experience in real estate or condemnation cases.

The last component to compensation that should not be overlooked is costs to cure. Costs to cure are essentially hard costs incurred by the property owner to restore their property to the pre-taking condition, such as a convenience store needing to replace its gas prices sign after being forced to take it down due to a road expansion. There can be more nuanced items like re-striping or modifying a parking lot to accommodate a different flow of traffic as a result of the loss of parking spaces due to a public road project.

“There's a lot of moving parts in these cases and none of them are ever really the same,” Laurent said.

Is your land being affected by a project like the US 380 alignment? Laurent said a good place to start is with a firm like Barron, Adler, Clough & Oddo, PLLC. Individuals can visit the firm website or call 512-478-4995 to talk to an experienced attorney. See more information about the US 380 alignment project at

“It’s critically important that anyone who receives an eminent domain offer doesn’t sign anything until after consulting with a lawyer, because there’s no way for an agreement to be undone,” Laurent said. “...This is the one opportunity to be compensated for the taking. Take your time to carefully consider what you’re owed.”

The above story was produced by Senior Multi Platform Journalist Summer El-Shahawy with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of its "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.