Public urged to vote for new interstate marker

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comNovember 27, 2012 

— Locals passing exit 90 on I-77 are going to be seeing the thing every day, so officials figure they may as well get a say in what it looks like.

State transportation and county planning leaders want input on a gateway monument to be placed there welcoming travelers into York County. A volunteer design committee and South Carolina Department of Transportation put together three renderings. York County Planning Department is hosting a drop-in meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Fort Mill Library, and there’s already a survey online at surveymonkey.com/s/Exit90.

The idea, according to county planners, is to “provide an enhanced way to identify this important gateway into both York County and South Carolina.”

The survey lists three options: One is 48 feet long and almost 12 feet high in the middle, more than seven feet toward the ends. Another is 40 feet long with 16- and 11-foot sections and the smallest is 24 feet long and 11 feet high. All options are brick with blue and green, featuring county and state logos.

For some, the sign could be more than cosmetic.

Reba Gambrell began as sales clerk at Red Rocket Fireworks on Hwy. 21 in 2001, and worked at the company’s Rock Hill location prior. Fireworks and gas often bring traffic from across the state line, and Gambrell’s store offers both.

“It’s an advantage to getting some business going up and down the road,” she said of increased interstate signage. “We appreciate them stopping.”

Fireworks stores and gas stations abound at the first exit into South Carolina. The gas tax is higher in North Carolina and fireworks aren’t sold there. Several gas station managers, their pumps pulled-up-to by plenty of out-of-state tags, said last week that the new, large reminder for motorists that they’ve reached South Carolina soil can’t hurt.

Gambrell, around long enough to remember lottery tickets driving traffic south to her store, said there’s been talk for quite some time about an entrance marker like the one now being discussed. Her vote? The bigger the better.

“It’s a long time coming,” she said.

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