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York County residents to vote on 1-cent sales tax for roads in June

Voters will decide in June whether to approve $161 million in road construction projects proposed for the third "Pennies for Progress" program.

The York County Council gave final approval to send the program to voters at its final meeting of the year Monday night.

"Pennies for Progress is the greatest thing that has ever happened to York County," said Councilman Joe Cox, who urged voters to approve it in June.

With voters' approval in June, the county will embark on 53 miles of highway widening and safety improvements, plus 39 gravel road paving projects funded with the 1-cent sales tax collected over the next seven years.

Here's what those who live and work in various parts of the county can expect:

Fort Mill: $52.4 million for five projects covering 6.75 miles

Rock Hill: $51.4 million for nine projects covering 13.1 miles

Lake Wylie: $30.1 million for two projects covering 4.5 miles in the

Clover: $10 million for three projects covering 9.9 miles

York: $7.5 million for five projects covering 11.7 miles

Countywide: $9.5 million for 39 gravel roads

Voters first passed the Pennies 1-cent sales tax for road improvements in 1997 and then again in 2003. To date, the program has been the only significant source of road-improvement dollars in York County, funding nearly 40 road projects totaling more than $200 million in improvements.

Pennies for Progress was created to help meet the county's growing transportation needs, said Phil Leazer, Pennies project manager.

Road upkeep isn't the focus of the program. Instead, the focus is on improving the safety of roads and intersections, adding sidewalks and accommodating bicycles, widening roads to improve traffic and repairing bridges. The program focuses primarily on improving traffic and safety along major thoroughfares in hopes of decreasing accident and fatality rates, Leazer said.

Blake: Re-examine roads

District 4 Councilman Roy Blake made one last plea to the council to postpone approving the Pennies referendum and reconvene the Pennies for Progress commission, which created the list of projects, to reconsider including several residential streets in southern Rock Hill with drainage and safety issues.

Blake and the residents recently approached the county and Rock Hill city officials for help.

"I've always been a supporter of Pennies," Blake said. "But my constituents feel they have been left out."

Blake said that several roads in the Flint Hill and South Central neighborhoods have high traffic counts and are dangerous cut-through streets in need of safety improvements.

Despite his appeal, the motion to approve the program passed.

After the meeting, Councilman Curwood Chappell told Blake that the residents' concerns were valid and that the council needed to continue to work on finding a solution.