Extensive post-war road building programs have led to a great deal of judicial and legislative activity in the field of condemnation law, but the attorney or highway administrator confronted with day to day problems probably seldom has the opportunity to look beyond the law of his own state or in any event beyond the law pertaining to the specific problem with which he is confronted. It is the objective of this paper to provide a broader view of recent happenings in the field of highway condemnation law and to sketch such major trends as seem to be apparent on a nationwide basis.
This paper is based primarily upon information gathered in a study being conducted under a contract between the Bureau of Public Roads and the University of Wisconsin. The Study focuses on highway condemnation law during the period of 1946 through 1961 and includes, among other things, a review of legislation and litigation pertaining to highway condemnation during that period. Because 16 years is a relatively brief period on which to base conclusions as to major trends in decisional law, the principal focus of this paper necessarily will be on legislative law. Some attention also will be given to the interrelationship of the legislative and judicial processes in the development of condemnation law.