Five years after completing a $12 million streetscape project on Cherry Road, Rock Hill officials are eyeing a second round of improvements on a shorter stretch closer to Winthrop University.
Conceptual plans call for bike lanes and enhanced crosswalks to boost safety and, eventually, serve as the route for a CATS bus line connecting to Charlotte.
"This becomes a configuration that handles just as much traffic ... plus accommodates the bikes and pedestrians, and makes them feel safe at the same time," said Bill Meyer, the city's planning and development director.
"To us, it's the best of both worlds."
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Bike lanes 4-feet wide in either direction would provide buffers between cars and people on the sidewalk, Meyer told City Council members at a planning retreat this week.
Car lanes would be narrowed by 1 to 2 feet to become 11 feet - still wider than the 10-foot lanes on Oakland Avenue next to Winthrop as well as other major roads around town, Meyer noted.
No travel lanes would be eliminated.
An upcoming proposal for "Pennies for Progress" sets aside $1.2 million for pedestrian safety upgrades on Cherry Road.
The bike lanes would be a separate initiative by the city, Meyer said.
Voters will decide in a June referendum whether to approve York County's 1-cent road improvement sales tax for a third time since 1997.
Cherry Road is a prime candidate for the state's emphasis on pedestrian safety, DOT engineers told Rock Hill officials.
Bike lanes are not a legal requirement, but new DOT policies encourage them as an alternate means of travel.
Councilman John Black questioned whether bike lanes make sense on a road that carries 15,000 to 20,000 cars per day.
"I'm not against bike lanes," Black said at the retreat. "I just think Cherry Road is such a major, heavily trafficked road."
A "college town" citizens group suggested a network of bike lanes around campus, with the Cherry Road stretch running from Winthrop Coliseum to District Three Stadium.
The work would follow a 2.5-mile streetscape overhaul completed in 2005 along a stretch near Interstate 77. Workers buried power lines, put in landscaping and built new sidewalks and storm drains.
Cherry Road had become an eyesore, stuck in an outdated 1970s-era layout while development fled to higher-end areas such as Manchester Village. Empty storefronts and neon-colored quick cash centers still dot the landscape.
In the long-term, transit planners envision Cherry Road as the main corridor for a CATS commuter bus line linking Rock Hill to Charlotte.
The first step could start this summer. Under a tentative plan, the 78X Celanese Express will stop in a park-and-ride lot at Home Depot off North Cherry Road and at two Fort Mill shopping centers en route to the light rail station in Pineville, N.C.
One day, a passenger could catch a bus in front of Winthrop and ride to Time Warner Cable Arena, SouthPark mall or Charlotte landmarks.
"An important part of the equation is how you get to the bus stop," Meyer said. "Are your streets walkable? That's how you make these things successful."