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Roadwork raises ire

LAKE WYLIE -- Confusion on roads that need work and don't get it -- happens every day. But a road most everyone thinks is perfectly fine shut down for construction?

"A few people have been calling me," said Tom Smith, Lake Wylie's representative to York County Council. The current construction on S.C. 49, a resurfacing of each lane in both directions from Three Points to Buster Boyd Bridge, isn't a Lake Wylie project or even a York County project. In fact, county council found out about the paving only when the barrels arrived.

"It's a federal project that's given through the state, and it's for the most heavily traveled roads," Smith said. "As far as when they were coming, we didn't have a clue."

The county also wasn't asked for recommendations on the work, or gauged to see what need there was for it. Mainly for preventative maintenance due to high traffic counts, Smith admits much of the project area seemed to need little to no work, though a few areas--particularly near Cafe 49 and Roadhouse--did.

"We don't have any input locally," he said.

Judging by some local input, locals question why the project is taking place.

"We all assumed it was a perfectly good road," said Sharon Godfrey, who works just off the highway at the Mike Short Agency and has been trying to get information from local and state transportation leaders. "It just seems like nobody knows anything."

Susan Bromfield, president of the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce, also hears from people in the area who have a hard time understanding why the highway needs resurfacing. Especially in the current economy and with other roads that seemingly need work more.

"People are a little disgusted because they didn't think, just as lay people, the road seemed fine to them," she said.

The question is particularly interesting now, Bromfield said, with work beginning just prior to and lasting through Memorial Day--the heaviest trafficked time of the year for Lake Wylie.

"Why not March?" Bromfield said.

According to traffic counts from South Carolina Department of Transportation, the stretch of road in question travels thousands of cars each day. Heather Worthy with SCDOT's construction department said with no delays the work could be finished within the month, but would take longer with rain or other hold-ups. She also said the project is one of three on a contract that arrived several months ago, and was spurred by calls about potholes and uneven surfaces.

Work should run between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily to avoid blocking rush hour traffic, though Worthy understands people will be impacted regardless of what time construction takes place.

Especially without information prior to the work, many will continue wondering why those impacts are needed.

"I didn't know until they started putting out the cones," Bromfield said. "I'm sure they have their reasons, in big bureaucracy, but no, people don't understand."