Has the big road upgrade in Fort Mill improved your drive? If not, just wait

Tracy Kimball/tkimball@heraldonline.com

A new traffic pattern is open in Fort Mill, but better days still should lie ahead for drivers.

The intersection where Fort Mill Parkway and Spratt Street meet, near Riverview Elementary School and the new Elizabeth neighborhood, opened earlier this year with a new configuration. Yet there’s still concern from drivers how well the intersection, plus the nearby U.S. 21 and Sutton Road intersection, are functioning.

“It’s a new traffic pattern,” said Pennies for Progress director Patrick Hamilton. “There’s a couple of growing pains that comes along with that, for the public to adjust.”

Hamilton updated elected and public officials Friday when the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study policy committee met. One of those officials, Fort Mill Mayor Guynn Savage, thanked Hamilton for ongoing road work but said she gets constant constituent concern at spots like Fort Mill Parkway and Spratt or Sutton and U.S. 21.

Savage said she met early Friday with a development group when the latest round of input came.

“I was barraged with phone calls, texts,” Savage said.

Hamilton said he’s aware of concerns, like traffic light timing at Sutton and U.S. 21. There also are barrels out still on the parkway in front of Elizabeth. Hamilton said GPS sites may still need to update the newly located intersection, which isn’t fully complete despite it being open now in a new spot.

“We’re hoping by the end of March, early April, that everything will be completely finished and open to traffic,” Hamilton said.

Even then there will be challenges. The intersection work adds turn lanes, but there still is just one through lane on the parkway. The most recent Pennies campaign, approved by York County voters, includes a widening of the parkway there to five lanes.

Hamilton’s group should start acquiring right-of-way this spring.

“That project is moving along,” Hamilton said. “We’re still a couple of years out from construction starting.”

Rock Hill, Tega Cay work

Rock Hill and Tega Cay drivers can expect new construction soon, too. Hamilton said there’s been paving done, but still some sidewalks left to complete at the Hubert Graham Way extension in Tega Cay. The project connects to the Windhaven neighborhood.

“This is set to be open to traffic around that same timeframe (as Fort Mill Parkway), around March or so,” Hamilton said.

Two smaller intersection projects have been bid out, at New Gray Rock and Sutton roads in Tega Cay and at Celanese and Cherry roads in Rock Hill. The Tega Cay project is near the new Catawba Park. The Rock Hill job is near a much larger project, the planned interchange upgrade at I-77, Celanese and Cherry.

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Both the smaller intersection jobs have had utility relocation through the winter.

“Roadway construction is expected to begin in March and both of these are relatively smaller projects,” Hamilton said. “We hope to have these open to traffic in the summer.”

Pennies 5

Still more work could come across York County, if voters approve it. A new Pennies commission was appointed, and met for the first time in January. More information should be available this week or next on the coming public meetings where municipalities and residents can offer up projects they’d like to see improved.

“They will be holding public meetings throughout the year,” Hamilton said.

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York County Council appointed former council members Britt Blackwell and Chad Williams to the citizen commission, along with Montrio Belton. Chris Leonard from Tega Cay, Zackary Zapack from Rock Hill and Steve Mellon from York are the other members.

That group will take project requests through the fall. A list will be narrowed and sent to county staff for cost estimates. The commission will get those estimates back about this time next year. The group will finalize a list York County Council can vote — in full, they can’t modify it — to put on a referendum for county voters in fall 2024.

Hamilton told the RFATS group Friday there isn’t a cost projection yet for how may projects may make the next Pennies campaign, the fifth one since the program began in 1997. Pennies is a cent sales tax for roads. With extensive growth in the area since the most recent campaign was approved for almost $280 million in 2017, Hamilton said it’s likely the next campaign would fund even more work.

“I would think surely it would surpass Pennies 4,” Hamilton said.