City adds brick ‘gateway’ marker to southern Rock Hill

adouglas@heraldonline.comNovember 19, 2012 

— Leitner Construction will break ground next week for a new brick “Saluda Gateway” sign at the intersection of Albright Road and Saluda Street, the southern entrance into Rock Hill.

The sign and other public infrastructure work over the past 20 years should prompt more private investment in southern Rock Hill, said City Council member Osbey Roddey.

Roddey represents many neighborhoods in southern Rock Hill. He’s lived on Laney Terrace – not far from the site of the gateway sign – for 38 years.

Laney Terrace was a dirt road when he arrived, Roddey said, with no water or sewer service. Development around Saluda Street and Albright Road, he said, have significantly changed neighborhoods in southern Rock Hill.

Saluda Street has been widened with sidewalks added. Saluda Trail Middle School and South Pointe High School were built nearby.

The new road marker’s design was unveiled on Monday afternoon at a news conference.

Roddey pointed to other major projects – including the intersection sign – that he says will encourage businesses to invest in the area.

“What it takes is people who are willing to invest money,” said Lee Gardner, chief executive of Family Trust Federal Credit Union.

Gardner’s credit union opened a branch on Albright Road in 2006.

Family Trust opened its Dave Lyle Boulevard branch in 1995. Seventeen years ago, the move was perceived as a risk by some people, Gardner said, because Dave Lyle Boulevard was not a major thoroughfare yet.

With more investments in southern Rock Hill, he said, Saluda Street and Albright Road could become the “next Dave Lyle Boulevard.”

The southern marker will be similar to other Rock Hill “gateways” such as the brick structure on Interstate 77 at exit 79 leading to Dave Lyle Boulevard.

The four grassy areas at each corner of the Albright and Saluda intersection will be spruced up with new landscaping and pedestrian lights. The city is placing a brick wall with Rock Hill’s city logo on it in front of the BP gas station.

Rock Hill is picking up about 20 percent of the cost to build the intersection marker, with state grants paying for the rest.

In addition, the city paid Ayer Design Group $30,000 to draft a design of the marker. To receive the grant, Rock Hill had to present a design and plan first.

In total, the construction and beautification of the intersection will cost $187,000. Transportation enhancement grants from the state will pay for $149,600 of the cost.

Rock Hill developed a capital improvement plan for the Saluda Street area in 2005 to help organize development areas.

The city has invested more than $3 million to build sidewalks, add streetscaping and complete electrical improvements. A large portion of the money spent came from HUD loans and the sale of utility bonds, repaid with revenue from Rock Hill’s utility services.

The city invested about $2.1 million to build a new fire station on Albright Road completed in 2009.

Utility lines were buried in many spots near the Albright Road and Saluda Street intersection earlier this year and decorative street lighting was added to the area.

With York County “Pennies for Progress” money, Albright Road is growing from a two-lane road to a five-lane thoroughfare. Construction on Albright Road began in June 2012.

York County voters approved in 1997 spending money from the 1-cent sales tax revenue to widen Albright Road. Voters also approved spending for improvements to S.C. 901/Mount Holly Road and S.C. 72/Saluda Street that year.

The Albright Road widening project is the last 1997 Pennies for Progress initiative to be started.

Road work and sidewalks have benefited the neighborhoods, said Laney Terrace resident Greg Miller, a masonry contractor in Rock Hill.

It’s been a “waiting game,” he said, to see what businesses might invest in the Saluda Street area.

The new sign should lead visitors into the city, just as the marker on I-77 near Dave Lyle Boulevard has, said Deputy City Manager Jimmy Bagley.

“A lot of time and effort has been spent in this area,” Bagley said. “It’s just time that we have a proper introduction to Rock Hill.”

Anna Douglas 803-329-4068

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