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.
(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.