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Road project to ease congestion near I-77, Rock Hill Galleria

York County residents will have a chance to weigh in on an upcoming road-construction project aimed at reducing traffic near the Rock Hill Galleria on Interstate 77 and providing another north-south route around the city.

A public hearing on the project's environmental study is the next step in the proposed widening of Celriver Road and Red River Road, from Cherry Road to Dave Lyle Boulevard, said Phil Okey, project manager for the city of Rock Hill. It's also a chance for the public to get a clearer sense of how the widening will impact surrounding properties, Okey said.

The S.C. Department of Transportation has scheduled the hearing from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Officials urge property owners and business owners on or near the project area to attend the meeting in Room 133 at the city's Operations Center, 757 S. Anderson Road.

The project's first phase from Cherry Road to Eden Terrace will cost $5.8 million and will be paid for through "Pennies for Progress," the county's road-building program through a 1-cent sales tax. Improvements include widening the existing two-lane road to five lanes and adding curb and gutter with bicycle lanes, sidewalks and a paved left-turn lane.

A future phase of the project will extend those improvements from Eden Terrace to Dave Lyle Boulevard, add a 12-foot raised grass median and replace the bridge over Manchester Creek between Waterford Park Drive and Eden Terrace.

Tuesday's hearing will begin informally, where the public will have a chance to review documents detailing the road's proposed alignment and impacts to the environment and properties. About 30 properties will be affected and two homes may have to be removed, Okey said, adding that homeowners already have been informed. The project will impact some wetlands and require bridge crossings, he said.

Representatives from S.C. DOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the city of Rock Hill and York County will be available to answer questions.

A formal presentation on the project's purpose, schedule and community and environmental impacts, will follow at 6 p.m. in Room 132. The public will be given a chance to comment formally. Those wishing to speak must sign up between 5 p.m. and 5:55 p.m. as they enter the public hearing.

Major arterial roadway

Eventually, the city would like to see the improvements continue along the same roadway, called Springdale Road, from Dave Lyle Boulevard south to U.S. 21/Anderson Road, Okey said.

The improvements will transform what is now a "farm-to-market road into a major arterial roadway," he said. Together, the improvements will relieve traffic on I-77 and in the Galleria area, while creating an "engine for economic development" along the now two-lane, mostly rural roadway.

While land is plentiful along the corridor, transportation opportunities are "meager," a point businesses looking to relocate often point out, he said.

The area slated for widening runs from U.S. 21/Cherry Road to U.S. 21/Anderson Road, both multi-lane corridors, but in between "you've got basically nothing going on," he said.

Pennies for Progress will pay for slightly more than half a mile in improvements, only a fraction of the more than 5 miles the city would like to see widened.

But "getting a start with the Pennies project will hopefully be a catalyst" for the remaining distance, which the city is hoping to pay for through federal grants, Okey said.

The city will know sometime this fall whether federal dollars will pay for the remaining distance, expected to cost between $16 million and $20 million, he said.

Want to go?

What: Public hearing on Celriver Road / Red River Road widening

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: City of Rock Hill Operations Center, 757 S. Anderson Road, Room 133

Review plans ahead of time on the S.C. DOT website, on the city of Rock Hill website, or at the S.C. DOT's Central Office at 955 Park Street in Columbia and at S.C. DOT's District Four Office at 123 J.A. Cochran Bypass in Chester, 803-377-4155.

Contact Phil Okey, city project manager, at 803-329-8710 or Brian Klauk, S.C. DOT program manager, at 803-737-5051 for information.

People with disabilities who require special accommodations to attend the hearing should call Lis Bleasdale at 803-737-1345.