Burris v. Metro. Transit Auth. of Harris Cnty

In Burris v. Metro. Transit Auth. of Harris Cnty., 266 S.W.3d 16, 20 (Tex. App.--Houston 1st Dist. 2008, no pet.), the Court considered whether Metro's construction of a light rail line on San Jacinto Street in Houston resulted in a material and substantial interference with access to an adjacent commercial property. 266 S.W.3d at 18-19. Prior to construction of the rail line, customers had access to the plaintiffs' property via two driveways. Id. at 18. After construction, Metro closed one driveway and changed the other driveway to egress only. Id. The plaintiffs sued Metro for inverse condemnation, arguing that it had materially and substantially impaired access to their property because there was no longer ingress from San Jacinto Street, as it was completely blocked by the rail line, and the only ingress was from a side street. Id. at 20. The plaintiffs, based in part on the reasoning of the supreme court in City of Waco v. Texland Corporation, 446 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. 1969), asserted that the "fact that some access to the Property remained from the side street . . . was immaterial." The plaintiffs noted that in Texland, the court concluded that the access to the property had been impaired, even though ingress was not totally denied. Id. at 21. The Burris plaintiffs argued that the "taking" in their case was even more egregious than the taking in Texland because they had "no ingress whatsoever from their frontage on San Jacinto." Id. However, the Court noted that the plaintiffs presented no evidence that their customers and vendors could not access their property. Id. at 23 In fact, their customers and vendors still had ingress to the property via a side street and still had egress onto San Jacinto Street. Id. at 24. The Court then concluded that the closure of the ingress from San Jacinto Street did not constitute a material and substantial impairment. Id.