Another bridge crossing the Catawba River would be a welcome change, say some York County residents whose homes lie in the area slated for the connector.
"Progress is inevitable, and it's good for our children," said Jason Campbell on Tuesday night at Riverview Elementary School.
Campbell was one of a few dozen people who came out to look at maps and ask regional transportation planners about a proposed bridge linking the area near India Hook and Mount Gallant roads in Rock Hill with Sutton Road in Fort Mill Township.
The area lies south of the Lake Wylie dam and is heavily wooded except for some residential streets.
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Campbell said he wouldn't mind the bridge connecting to Sutton Road close to where he lives as long as he and other residents - who may have to give up their yards, or worse, their homes - have a say in the process.
"We want to make sure our voices and our rights are protected as property owners," he said.
Campbell grew up in the area and will always think of it as home, he said. When he was 4 years old most of the roads were dirt or gravel.
"You can go anywhere in the world, but when you come back to where you were born and raised, you can smell it. Home is home, and home is Fort Mill," he said.
But progress has its benefits, residents say, including a stronger community, better resources and the opportunity for development. While this area of unincorporated York County hasn't seen much change, Tega Cay's city limits are edging closer and the town of Fort Mill has annexed some property nearby as well.
"That area has been so stifled for several years," said Buddy Becknell who lives nearby on Harris Road.
Heading up the project is the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study, a regional planning committee that sets priorities for transportation projects in eastern York County.
The bridge would improve traffic flow between communities in eastern and northeastern York County and relieve congestion on and off Interstate 77, project planners say.
But not everyone agrees.
When the committee announced it was pursuing the bridge project, Fort Mill Town Councilman Larry Huntley had one thought:
"Surely, they're not serious," he said Tuesday.
Huntley said Sutton Road - "a paved cow path" - won't withstand the traffic that results from a new bridge, especially with the growth expected there. Carolinas Medical Center is hoping to build a hospital off of Sutton Road near I-77.
"They're going to move Rock Hill's traffic problem at Celanese over to Fort Mill," he said.
Some are "understandably cautious" about the bridge's impact on traffic and the region, said David Hooper, the study's coordinator.
But with 40,000 vehicles crossing the state line every day, and with population and traffic on the rise, transportation planners must also consider how to plan responsibly for that growth, he said.
Early estimates indicate a three-mile long, five-lane bridge would cost about $42.5 million. The planning committee receives more than $4 million in federal dollars annually, much of which it has begun setting aside for the bridge.
A private firm is determining how wide the bridge should be, its alignment and cost estimates. A meeting in January will take a look at paths the bridge might follow.
The Rev. Stephen Gaither of India Hook United Methodist Church, on Mount Gallant near India Hook, was curious Tuesday night where the bridge would lie. His congregation has been impacted by widening along Mount Gallant when they lost an old oak tree that had sentimental value.
Not yet knowing the bridge's path, some residents are already on board.
"It's a great idea," said Peggy LeCour, a resident of Harris Road Extension. "I would love to see them come down Harris" and widen the road.
Peggy and her husband, Ed LeCour, have lived there for more than 20 years and have seen it change, slowly, from "peach trees and cow fields."
"It's all natural" in the area, Peggy said.
Ed LeCour worries about the ecology and the impact on the river, but ultimately he supports the project.
"I think it's beneficial," he said. "I just hope it's done correctly."