By next summer, a long-sought sidewalk along Finley Road should be complete, providing safer passage for children walking to and from school, officials say.
The completed sidewalk will run along the north side of Finley Road from Cherry Road to Sidney Street.
"It will be a huge benefit to our students," said Al Bogan, principal at Finley Road Elementary School.
While the safety of about 20 students walking to and from school is Bogan's greatest concern, the sidewalks also will reduce the number of people who aren't students or school employees crossing the school parking lot to get to Cherry Road.
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Though Bogan said there's never been any security issues, "You always have somebody you don't know on your campus. It's a concern that would be alleviated when the sidewalks are complete," he said.
The sidewalk will be less than a mile long, but planning for it has proven difficult because of jurisdiction, right of way and construction challenges, including a creek crossing.
York County, the city of Rock Hill and the South Carolina Department of Transportation collaborated on the effort.
Improvements along Cherry Road funded by the "Pennies for Progress" 1 cent sales tax will cover the sidewalk from Cherry Road to York Avenue.
District 4 County Councilman Roy Blake has allocated about $200,000 in C-funds for sidewalk construction from McFadden Street to York Avenue, and Rock Hill will cover costs from McFadden to Sidney streets.
York County will receive construction plans from Rock Hill next week. Once the plans are approved, county officials will have a better idea of cost, said Mark Kettlewell, county engineer.
At that point, they'll put the project out for bid.
Construction on the county's portions of the sidewalk will be complete by summer 2011, officials said.
Though funds are available, the city has yet to determine a timeline, said Jason Wiel, the city's neighborhood development supervisor.
Last year, after a seventh-grader was struck by an SUV while crossing Saluda Road, Saluda Trail Middle School was at the top of the list of Rock Hill schools needing safer routes for pedestrians. Saluda Trail's improvements are complete.
Walking to and from Sullivan Middle School also has been a concern. The county will lay sidewalks along Eden Terrace from Mount Gallant to Riverview Road as part of the 2011 Pennies program. If the referendum passes in June, the county will start collecting the tax in January 2012 and will begin work on the project, said Phil Leazer, Pennies project manager.
Getting other projects done will require the county, city, and DOT to collaborate.
A planned recreation pathway between S.C. 901 and the school zone for Northwestern High and Rawlinson Road Middle is inside city limits. But to continue that path through county jurisdiction to the schools will take a "coordinated effort between the county and the city," said John Taylor, Rock Hill parks supervisor. No such plan exists, he said.
Sidewalks on Mount Gallant Road near Rosewood Elementary are part of 2003 and 2011 Pennies projects, but the streets adjacent to the school need them too, said Bobby Banks, Rock Hill public works director. That project will require collaborating with the DOT and the county, which maintain different areas around the school, he said.
"It's going to take some coordination, a joint partnership similar to what we've done with Finley Road," he said.
"As funding comes available, we're knocking them down as soon as we can."