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‘Going to make everyone’s life interesting’: What to know ahead of Cherry Road delays

It won’t be a summer cruise up and down Cherry Road. More like summer crews. And barrels. And waiting.

“This is the one that’s going to make everyone’s life interesting this summer,” said Bill Meyer, Rock Hill planning and development director.

Meyer updated Rock Hill City Council on Monday on several major road projects scheduled to finish by the end of the year. The list includes upgrades to a significant stretch of Cherry Road from Alumni Drive to Deas Street. Construction began May 6. But the summer, Meyer said, is when drivers will feel it.

“There’s going to be delays,” he said. “There will always be one lane open while they’re doing the work, getting some traffic by. But the pain of replacing this very, very old road bed is going to be felt for a couple of months.”

Crews are milling a few inches of asphalt now. Median work near Winthrop University for a pedestrian safety project is underway. The work will continue through November.

From about mid-June to mid-August, construction crews will go section-by-section taking out about a foot of road base, using a concrete that dries in about four hours, Meyer said.

“They’re able to get traffic back on it pretty quickly,” he said.

Still, the limited thru-traffic could stall drivers.

“They’ll be keeping the driveways to the businesses open the best they can, but this is not the kind of road project that has time restrictions,” Meyer said. “They have a window from 7 (a.m.) to 7 (p.m.) that they can use for this, so it could potentially be going on even during rush hour.”

Project leaders will keep the roads open for certain events.

“They have committed for any additional graduations that they won’t shut down the road,” Meyer said.

Winthrop and York Technical College already held graduation ceremonies at Winthrop Coliseum on Eden Terrace. Winthrop also hosts graduation for York County’s seven public high schools the first week of June.

Eden Terrace is likely to back up during the Cherry Road work.

“I’m not aware of there being any formal detours, but we know people will find their way,” Meyer said.

Councilwoman Sandra Oborokumo shares concerns for businesses along Cherry.

“Hopefully there will be some type of consideration for them to be able to get people in and out,” she said.

Meyer doesn’t expect any severe effect on businesses.

“Hopefully, any business will be impacted just on a day or two rather than weeks and weeks at a time,” he said.

The Cherry road work is part of Pennies for Progress, a voter-approved York County program. South Carolina Department of Transportation is doing the construction work. Plans are to start at Alumni Drive and repair the outside lane of Cherry bit-by-bit until crews reach Deas. Then, they’ll turn around and do the same work on the inside lane back to Alumni in a big loop.

“If you see them at Charlotte Avenue on Tuesday, chances are they’re going to be at Richmond Drive on Thursday,” Meyer said. “You can kind of track how they’re going to do it because it’s going to be very systematic. And then you can use other routes.”

An even bigger project?

Road work to relieve congestion at what regional road planners call one of the worst spots in the county — the I77/Celanese/Cherry interchange — also is underway. Improvements at the Riverchase Boulevard and Riverview Road intersections with a connection between via Ligon Drive should be done by November.

“There is a major change to traffic flow that takes place as part of this project,” Meyer said.

Northbound traffic on Riverchase, by the car wash and Starbucks, only will be allowed to turn right. There won’t be thru traffic going north on Riverchase through the Celanese intersection. Drivers at Riverchase will have to circle down to Riverview to head west on Celanese.

The Riverchase intersection will become double left turn lanes in both directions.

“That allows us to clear a lot of traffic very quickly,” Meyer said. “Because the goal of this entire project is to keep the lights green on Celanese for as long as possible.”

A southbound median at Riverchase is gone, between Outback Steakhouse and the retail development.

“That’ll become a double left turn that will be a green flood coming out of there because there’s going to be no opposing traffic coming from the south,” Meyer said. “That’s one of the areas that backs up the most.”

Clearing has begun at Ligon. Meyer said the blockage at Riverview should be the most significant, as crews ran into rock during utility relocation.

“It’ll just be barrels and working people around,” Meyer said.

The project is part of a federal air quality grant. It is critical, Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study director David Hooper said earlier this year. If it doesn’t relieve congestion near the interchange, more drastic steps could be needed including removing the traffic signal at Riverchase.

More road work

Two more Rock Hill projects should wrap up in fall. Improvements at White and Main streets, and Firetower Road, should be done in October. A partial closure of West White Street runs May 16-19.

“There are no other intended closings that we’re aware of at this point,” Meyer said.

Improvements at the Anderson Road, Main and Cowan Farm Road intersection should finish in November. Both are Pennies for Progress projects. Intersection improvements are designed to improve traffic flow.

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