Skip to main content


Project Dates
02/12/2002 - 11/19/2003
Principal Investigators
Project Status
Project Objective

The objective of this study is to determine actual economic impacts on property values, relative to highway projects requiring partial takings from adjacent properties. This research will involve study of several individual properties, from which a general conclusion can be hypothesized. The Department, working through the Technical Work Group, has identified candidate highway projects for study.

Project Abstract

Each year the Department acquires several hundred parcels from commercial properties in conjunction with transportation projects. Most of these acquisitions are partial takings, meaning that only a portion of a total property is acquired. In many of these situations, it was perceived that the remainder property (the portion of the property NOT acquired for the project) has suffered economic damage because of the severance of the portion taken. Such perceived damages are above and beyond the value of the portion acquired, known as the direct take.

There is little empirical evidence to support the amounts of severance damage that actually occur. In theory, the estimation of such damages are based on appraisals known as "before and after" appraisals. This means that the property is appraised as it exists prior to the acquisition, and is then appraised again immediately after the taking, with the difference reflecting both the value of the parcel acquired (direct take), and the loss in value of the remainder property (severance damage). Such appraisals have traditionally been performed with very little, if any, market evidence to support the estimates of severance damage.

The lack of factual basis for possible severance damages has created wide divergences of opinion. While many cases are settled by general agreement of the parties (the Department and the claimant), many others are litigated. Those that cannot be settled without trial usually reflect the most extreme divergence of opinions. For many years, litigators have been faced with divergent conclusions based on little other than "opinion." Under such circumstances, appraisers become regarded as advocates of a position, rather than unbiased interpreters and reporters of factual matters. The amount of "typical" severance damage has become more a matter of legal precedent than a matter of economic fact. This is not desirable.

Task Descriptions

The study will be undertaken in three phases. Each phase is a separate Task.

Phase I: Data Gathering and Analysis

It is expected that siting and mapping the inventory of affected properties, establishing base-line values, aggregating post-construction market activity, and matching the various data sets to arrive at a supportable basis for making the requisite adjustments will require approximately 90 days time. Phase I will conclude with a meeting between the NYU team of analysts and representatives of the Department of Transportation to review the results of the search.

Phase II: Preparation of the Draft Study

it will terminate with the presentation of a draft version of the report 60 days later.

Phase III: Final Report

Review the draft and incorporation into it of the suggestions and critiques of DOT Staff. It will terminate with the delivery of the report in its final form within 30 days.



Student Involvement

This project will involve several graduate and Doctoral student in data collection, presentations, literature documentations and report preparation.

Relationship with Other Research Activities


Technology Transfer Activities

Useful file information will include but not be limited to prior appraisals, taking maps, engineering studies, sales brochures, and photographs.

Benefits of the Project

The following is a summary of the deliverables for each task.

  • Meeting between the research team of analysts New York State Department of Transportation
  • Draft Study
  • Final Report
Key Words

Real estate, property values, property acquisition, property appraisals.