23 CFR 710.503 - Protective buying and hardship acquisition.
(a) General conditions. Prior to the STD obtaining final environmental approval, the STD may request FHWA agreement to provide reimbursement for advance acquisition of a particular parcel or a limited number of parcels, to prevent imminent development and increased costs on the preferred location (Protective Buying), or to alleviate hardship to a property owner or owners on the preferred location (Hardship Acquisition), provided the following conditions are met:
(1) The project is included in the currently approved STIP;
(3) A determination has been completed for any property subject to the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 138; and
(b) Protective buying. The STD must clearly demonstrate that development of the property is imminent and such development would limit future transportation choices. A significant increase in cost may be considered as an element justifying a protective purchase.
(c) Hardship acquisitions. The STD must accept and concur in a request for a hardship acquisition based on a property owner's written submission that:
(1) Supports the hardship acquisition by providing justification, on the basis of health, safety or financial reasons, that remaining in the property poses an undue hardship compared to others; and
(2) Documents an inability to sell the property because of the impending project, at fair market value, within a time period that is typical for properties not impacted by the impending project.
(d) Environmental decisions. Acquisition of property under this section shall not influence the environmental assessment of a project, including the decision relative to the need to construct the project or the selection of a specific location.