$63 million in area roads projects up for discussion

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comApril 27, 2013 

— Area road experts are close to finalizing their to-do list for the next two decades, one they say is fair throughout eastern York County and meets the most critical public needs.

On Friday afternoon, planners with the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study set off a 30-day public review period for their updated long range plan through 2035. A public hearing will be held at the group’s May 17 meeting.

Current figures project an available $63.4 million during that term. The six listed items could run from $49.9 to $62.4 million.

“This group of projects is doable,” said David Hooper, RFATS coordinator.

There’s a widening of Hwy. 160 E. from the Fort Mill Southern Bypass to Hwy. 521 at an estimated $12.5-$15 million. There’s the $14 million Cel-river Road multi-lane widening from Eden Terrace to Dave Lyle Boulevard. Interchange improvements at I-77 and both Celanese Road and Hwy. 160 should cost $10.5-$15.5 million each.

Also making the list were a $2 million turn lane project at Anderson Road and I-77 and $350,000 for an interchange study at Coltharp Road and I-77.

Danny Funderburk, mayor of Fort Mill, said the list represents a fair picture of what’s needed throughout RFATS, a federally funded study area that includes most of eastern York County.

“A lot of work goes into making sure they are,” he said. “You have to do as much as you can with the money you have. That’s what we’ve done.”

There’s still a possibility that a “priority need emerges” that could change the list, Hooper said. Estimates could come in on the lower end and allow for additional projects. The plan’s required updates every four years can bring changes.

Other funding sources, like the county’s voter-mandated Pennies for Progress program, could fund either listed projects or others that didn’t make the cut.

“Some of these projects we have here might be public-interested projects,” said Phil Leazer, manager with the Pennies program.

Doug Echols, mayor of Rock Hill and chairman of the RFATS policy committee, said there are still areas of need like at I-77 and Dave Lyle Boulevard where “five years from now we’re going to be wringing our hands” if connections aren’t made in the Galleria Mall/Dave Lyle area.

Echols brought up the idea of adding that project to the list of six, rather than trying to work it in as a later revision.

“This is the list that they’re going to be working on,” he said. “The consideration of getting it on this list seems to be prudent.”

State Rep. Ralph Norman (R-Rock Hill), a policy committee member, said he wouldn’t bring up that funding need since his development company owns considerable property in the area. He did say within 24 to 36 months, multi-million dollar investments will be made there that could benefit from the roadwork.

Traffic volume, congestion and air quality impact are just a few items considered by planners in determining which projects to list. Community meetings have been held. The public can participate at rfatsmpo.org or by attending the May meeting at the Rock Hill Operations Center on Anderson Road, near York Tech.

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