A study of the plan to extend Dave Lyly Boulevard from Rock Hill to U.S. 521 in Lancaster County states that the project would be a boon to both counties. But the project will remain in limbo until the two counties can find a way to pay for it.
The study, commissioned by York County, provides hard data to back up claims by proponents of the plan. The $150,000 study said the extension would help create 12,000 new permanent jobs, around 6,000 new homes and around $70 million in annual tax revenue.
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The study looked not only at economic impact but also at land use and cost. By modifying a 2002 proposal, the study shows, planners could shorten the extension by 1.3 miles and eliminate the environmental threat to endangered species along the route.
The problem is cost. The estimated price tag of the project is $165 million, up from and earlier estimate of $120 million because of the rising cost of materials and other factors.
York County Manager Jim Baker notes that the two counties never could come up with that much themselves. And while the counties will make a joint application to the State Infrastructure Bank for funding, they are not likely to get the entire amount.
Baker said that because the project isn't “shovel ready,” it wouldn't qualify now for federal stimulus money. But, he added, the guidelines could change.
But Baker noted that even if the counties receive the money tomorrow, construction wouldn't start until 2012. The road wouldn't be finished until 2015, and full development along the route would not be completed until 2030 at the earliest. And that's the best-case scenario.
The idea clearly is worth pursuing. Local officials suspected that even before this report confirmed it.
But it is equally clear that the county would not enjoy the full benefits for decades — even if construction began immediately. Think of this extension and a potential gift to our children and grandchildren.