Although the revised estimate of a proposed Indian Land sidewalk project rose by nearly $80,000, a community collaboration is pushing the plan forward.
The Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study voted May 18 to start a 21-day public comment period, after which the group could finalize funding for 1,100 feet of sidewalk by Indian Land middle and high schools along River Road.
According to Lancaster County planning director Penelope Karagounis, the total cost of the project is $241,047. Lancaster County and Lancaster County School District will each contribute more than $24,000 to provide a 20-percent local match.
If RFATS passes a final vote at its next meeting on June 22, it will fund the remaining $192,838 over a two-year period through a federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant.
RFATS recently requested suggestions for potential sidewalk and pedestrian improvements. The Indian Land project came with endorsements from Indian Land Action Council, Lancaster County School District, Lancaster County Council and the Mayor of Van Wyck.
Members of the regional transportation group represent Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Tega Cay, York County and Lancaster County. Members generally supported a sidewalk project if it can improve the safety of walking to and from the school.
“It met all of the criteria for the grant and it was for a project related to the two schools,” RFATS chairman and Lancaster County Councilman Brian Carnes said. Carnes represents the Indian Land panhandle on Council.
York County Councilman Britt Blackwell, who represents Rock Hill, wondered if sidewalks at schools are a bigger issue. The Northwestern High School-Rawlinson Road Middle School area in Rock Hill has been a school site for four decades, much longer than the Indian Land site.
"I'm just wondering why they've patiently been waiting," Blackwell said.
RFATS takes up sidewalk and pedestrian issues as they arise. Members couldn't recall Northwestern coming up in the past. Jim Reno, a Rock Hill City Council and RFATS member, recalls Saluda Trail Middle School and a sidewalk issue "some years back."
"I don't recall Northwestern bringing up an issue," Reno said.
Older schools, if any, are more likely to need new sidewalks in the future because Lancaster County now has rules requiring sidewalks regardless of how rural an area may seem.
"Currently we're building two (schools) that are out in the country," Carnes said, "and they're both going to have sidewalks in front of them."
Karagounis said the final decision about the Indian Land sidewalk project will take place after the 21-day comment period, but it looks favorable that the grant will be awarded. She also commented on the strength of the grant.
“This was really a grassroots effort in citizen advocacy. It started with a parent watching the children walk across (U.S.) 521 and River Road to go to school and led to a petition with 300 signatures,” she said.
“They brought their concerns to the school district and then to the county and we worked together to apply for a TAP grant because that’s the purpose of TAP – to provide funding for pedestrian- and bicycle-focused projects.”
Want to comment?
To contact RFATS for public comment, call 803-326-2460 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Fort Mill Times reporter John Marks contributed to this story.