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York County has money for sidewalks, bike paths. The question is where to spend it.

Mandile Young walks around Walter Elisha Park behind his son Carson last summer. On Friday, the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study will vote on a new pedestrian and bicycle lane program.
Mandile Young walks around Walter Elisha Park behind his son Carson last summer. On Friday, the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study will vote on a new pedestrian and bicycle lane program. Fort Mill Times file photo

If there’s a sidewalk that isn’t on the ground but ought to be, now is the time to let someone know.

On Friday afternoon, the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study will vote whether to approve the schedule, criteria and selection process for this year’s version of a pedestrian and bicycle lane program. The transportation alternatives program involves federal money sent through the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

“Essentially, RFATS receives an annual amount — this year it is roughly $112,000 — from SCDOT for pedestrian-oriented improvement projects,” said David Hooper, RFATS administrator.

Hooper’s group serves both Rock Hill and Fort Mill, along with Tega Cay, Indian Land, Lake Wylie and the Catawba Indian Nation. It’s one of six federal transportation groups of its kind distributing — between them all —about $3 million from the state. Smaller, non-urbanized areas get another $4.5 million or so from the program.

Municipalities, schools and school districts, natural resource agencies and other governmental groups can apply. Those groups can complete pedestrian, bicycling or streetscaping projects and be eligible for reimbursement of up to 80 percent of the cost.

For the RFATS portion, a subcommittee will recommend projects to the full group. The schedule up for approval Friday would have projects submitted by April 9, reviewed by the subcommittee later that month and recommended in May to the full RFATS policy committee. The larger group would give final approval in June.

Whether projects in eastern York County and nearby Indian Land get funding, residents there won’t be able to say they were underrepresented.

Fort Mill and Tega Cay have their mayors, Guynn Savage and David O’Neal, respectively, on the subcommittee. Michael Johnson, whose York County Council district serves much of the same area, joins Lancaster County Council member Brian Carnes from Indian Land. Kathy Pender represents Rock Hill City Council.

Non-voting subcommittee members include top planners from Fort Mill, Tega Cay, York County and Lancaster County, along with an RFATS staff member.

Along with overall bang for the buck, local support for a project, including input from local government and citizens, is part of the selection process. How the project would fit into existing plans or conditions is considered.

Existing transportation alternative projects include pedestrian connectivity projects at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, Columbia and Oakland avenues in Rock Hill and East Liberty Street in York. Another, outside the RFATS area, involves Edgeland Road in Chester County.

According to the state transportation department, about 2.5 percent of South Carolina citizens walk or bike to work.

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