FORT MILL -- Much-neglected Regent Parkway could become a shortcut to Carolina Place mall for York County folks taking advantage of post-holiday sales, although engineers say its design may prevent that from happening.
The recently repaved 3-plus-mile stretch from U.S. 21 to Dorman Road in the tip of Lancaster County is full of curves, including a sharp dogleg near some railroad tracks.
The road connects an approximate 2-mile stretch of Regent Parkway, which serves the Regent Park neighborhood, with an approximate 1-mile extension built by Coulston Enterprises. Coulston is developing much of the old Heritage USA property primarily with homes.
The speed limit on the newly paved parkway is 25 and 35 mph throughout, and with York County engineers about to recommend the roadway be accepted into the county system, it promises to get more attention from the York County Sheriff's Office.
"I think dependency on Regent Parkway is not going to be as strong as we may think," said Phil Leazer, transportation manager for York County engineering. "There are so many things out there that make the potential of a cut-through not attractive."
A nonscientific drive from downtown Rock Hill, up Interstate 77 and across Interstate 485 to the Macy's parking area in Carolina Place was about 20 miles long and took just under 35 minutes with heavy, pre-Christmas traffic congestion.
A drive between the same two points via U.S. 21, Regent Parkway and Dorman Road was 18 miles long and took 40 minutes with heavy, pre-Christmas traffic congestion.
A drive between the same two points the day after Christmas with little traffic congestion was 18 miles long and took about 20 minutes.
Members of the Regent Park Homeowners Association have been negotiating with their developer, Regent Park Corp., for more than a year over control of their patched and potholed stretch of the parkway.
RPC sold some property east of the railroad tracks to Coulston, whose property extends to Dorman Road about a mile from the back of Carolina Place mall.
Coulston Enterprises has improved its stretch of the roadway, including a bridge. At the end of Dorman closest to the mall, construction is under way to realign Dorman to connect with Carolina Place Parkway.
Coulston, MorningStar Ministries and RPC all contributed to the cost of repaving and improving the road from the railroad tracks to U.S. 21. York County engineers inspected the work while it was being done and recently finished a final inspection, Leazer said.
"Based on our assessment, it would appear Coulston, the RPC and MorningStar have completed all the requirements that brought it up to current county standards," he said. "Coulston also has built its section to current county standards."
Leazer hopes engineers will present at least the Regent Park section of roadway to the county council for acceptance at its January meeting.
The Regent Park Homeowners Association and RPC also have entered into an agreement to convey Regent Park's common areas to the homeowners, association president Michael Sexton said.
Sexton said homeowners plan to discuss the viability of crosswalks, flashing lights and speed bumps on Regent Parkway with the county if or when the road is accepted. At least one "Children Playing" sign already is in evidence along the roadway.
Potential widening of U.S. 51 to five lanes toward North Carolina also makes that route to Carolina Place more attractive, Leazer said. Work was to be done with York County's 2003 "Pennies for Progress" road-improvement money, now imperiled by funding shortfalls. Officials on the North Carolina side also have indicated they would like to widen their portion, Leazer said.
Designing to widen the York County section of U.S. 51 was to have begun in 2009 and construction in 2010, he said. But shortfalls in "Pennies for Progress" make the timeline uncertain.
"It's in the lower priorities" portion of 2003 "Pennies for Progress" plans, Leazer said. Once it is done, he expects it to become the most attractive York County path to Carolina Place mall.
"I don't think many more people than those who live in Regent Park and Coulston developments will be the ones to use Regent Parkway," Leazer said.