Bump Roddey: Rock Hill streetcar is a bad idea

Knowledge Park planners say a streetcar, like this one in Little Rock, Ark., could draw more people to downtown Rock Hill.
Knowledge Park planners say a streetcar, like this one in Little Rock, Ark., could draw more people to downtown Rock Hill. Herald file

As city leaders come together around the idea of introducing a public streetcar to downtown Rock Hill, not everyone in town is ready to get on board.

York County Councilman William “Bump” Roddey, whose district includes the southern half of Rock Hill, came out against the streetcar on Friday.

“I have supported over 90 percent of the city's efforts to grow, develop, beautify and also revitalize our wonderful city and they have done an outstanding job,” Roddey said in a prepared statement. “However, I have a very different opinion of the recommended streetcar project.”

Roddey said the streetcar is a gamble. He said he’s opposed to the expected approximate $25 million cost of implementing the system.

“The streetcar is not a vital part of the success of Knowledge Park,” he said. “This will not add an economic boost to our local economy nor will it address our community mobility issues. It will only provide some additional shine and attraction to the area but for a hefty price tag.”

Roddey said the streetcar initiative would be an allowable project under the TIF Agreement, which he supported based on job creation and future tax generation.

Roddey’s comments come about a week after the Knowledge Park leadership group, a business-led entity pushing the redevelopment of the post-industrial section of downtown, formally endorsed the streetcar idea as the best public transportation option for downtown. The streetcar is expected to cost the city between $23 million and $27 million.

The leadership group studied several options to connect the redeveloped Knowledge Park area, Winthrop University and the downtown business district. Members traveled to other cities around the country to see their public transportation networks firsthand and see how they affected the area’s economic development.

Rock Hill residents can also take a survey to share their opinions of Knowledge Park, the streetcar and other ideas for public transportation online through the end of October at knowledgeparkrockhill.com/transportation.

The streetcar would run on a rail line from the downtown business district to Winthrop University, passing through the former site of the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Co., an area commonly called “the Bleachery” before the mill burned down in 2009. The city is targeting the area for redevelopment for a mix of residential and commercial uses.

Bristow Marchant: 803-329-4062, @BristowatHome