York County is making good on its promise to build a Fort Mill southern bypass in time to serve new schools in the area.
The county plans to complete the first phase of the bypass -- 1.75 miles -- from the railroad distribution center at Banks Street to Doby's Bridge Road by August 2010, according to County Engineer Mark Kettlewell.
Only two lanes will be built at first, although the county will buy enough land to eventually widen the road to five lanes as suggested by the Federal Highway Administration, Kettlewell said.
Doing the project in phases will allow the county to work with the school district's timeline, he said. School and county officials had said in February that meeting the school's need was a priority.
Fort Mill schools Superintendent Keith Callicutt was not available for comment Monday.
The route is important to the Massey development, a planned 1,000-residence subdivision along Doby's Bridge Road, said York County Councilman Paul Lindemann, who represents the Fort Mill area. The developers had discussed donating land for an elementary school along the bypass.
The 4-mile bypass originally was proposed to be two lanes, with its $15.2 million cost paid by the county's one-cent sales tax program, "Pennies for Progress." The highway administration suggested it be widened to five lanes to accommodate traffic in the fast-growing area.
The plan calls for the bypass to complete a loop around the east side of town, extending Fort Mill Parkway from Norfolk Southern Railway to the intersection of S.C. 160 and Springfield Parkway. It is projected to handle 2,600 to 11,300 vehicles a day, increasing to 14,100 by 2030.
Choosing a path for the bypass has caused controversy after errors forced engineers to reroute the road around the expensive Kimbrell Crossing subdivision and through an area with existing homes.
About seven property owners are affected by the first leg of the new road, although no houses will be in the way, Kettlewell said.
The county will have to consider several routes for the almost 2-mile second phase now that they are planning on a five-lane road, he said. The original alignments and possibly another route will be considered, and Kettlewell said all would connect to the first leg.
"We don't want to displace many property owners," he said. "The route for the second phase could change because it's more congested in that area."
Because the county is short on money for Pennies projects, Kettlewell said buying the right-of-way now for all the future lanes will save money in the long run.
"Putting the road in will drive up the land costs," he said.
Another concern is new developments being built too close to where the five-lane road would be, he said.
Lindemann said he's glad the county is planning for the future and buying five lanes for the bypass.
"With two lanes, it'll have a failing grade," he said. "I think it will be really productive to alleviate part of the headache first. It'll be a long time before it alleviates all of it."