It's been a long time coming for Lake Wylie, but one of the major road construction projects in York County is at the point where drivers can see it happening.
"They're actually out there clearing today," Pennies for Progress program manager Patrick Hamilton told members of the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study on Friday.
S.C. 274 and Pole Branch Road in Lake Wylie has a construction contract signed. Work will ramp up in coming months, with plans to have the project complete by 2020.
Pennies, a one-cent sales tax for road construction program that began in York County back in 1997, put the Lake Wylie project on its list for voters in 2011. The project then changed, going to a three-lane widening in places rather than five lanes the whole way from the Three Points intersection up to the North Carolina line.
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Eventually, the project was pushed back onto the next round of Pennies projects, approved by voters last fall.
At about $30 million, the Lake Wylie project has been worked on by engineers and right-of-way acquirers for some time. But it's typically the construction phase when most of a community feels like a project is happening, since drivers and neighbors can see progress.
"At least now we're at that stage," Hamilton said.
The Lake Wylie work will happen right at Mill Creek, prompting a question or two at the RFATS meeting about environmental impact. Hamilton said the county had survey done of the lake bottom done in 2015, ahead of construction. Another is planned this year and another after the new road opens.
"Once construction is over, we'll look at it again to determine how much (sedimentation) construction, road work contributed," Hamilton said.
As for how much sedimentation it would take for the county to have to dredge infill back out of coves there, Hamilton said it isn't the county's call.
"We can't answer that question," he said.
Duke Energy, the company managing the lake, would determine if dredging is needing along with groups like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"If they determine we need to dredge it," Hamilton told the RFATS group, "obviously we will."
Plenty more Pennies projects are at various stages of completion:
- Work at Cel-River/Red River roads in Rock Hill, S.C. 557 in Lake Wylie and the Sutton/Spratt/Fort Mill Parkway connection in Fort Mill should be under contract by the time York County Council meets in June. More than 21 miles of resurfacing, at about $11 million, also is coming countywide.
- Bids for resurfacing work on Cherry Road in Rock Hill should come this winter. A public meeting this fall is part of an 18-month process on U.S. 21 in Fort Mill. Two more right-of-way properties need to be acquired for Gold Hill Road/I-77 work planned.
- In Fort Mill, Pennies payed for what is now the three-lane Fort Mill Parkway with enough money to by right-of-way for future widening to five lanes. Then an intersection improvement at the western end of the parkway made the 2011 Pennies list, followed by that widening to five lanes for the parkway last fall.
The most recent vote will extend the road up to I-77, including new areas where right-of-way hasn't already been purchased.
"We're hoping to be under contract in June for design," Hamilton said. "It'll probably be at least three years or so before we acquire the right-of-way."